Florida braces for Eta’s wrath
PIC: AFP

Florida closed beaches and COVID testing sites, shut down public transportation and ordered some evacuations Sunday as Tropical Storm Eta took aim, bringing heavy rains to already flooded city streets after leaving scores of dead and over 100 missing in Mexico and Central America.

Eta made landfall late Sunday on Lower Matecumbe Key, Florida. Even if the storm doesn't strengthen into a hurricane, its slow speed and heavy rains posed an enormous threat to South Florida, an area already drenched from more than 14 inches (0.35 meters) of rain last month. Eta could dump an additional 6 to 12 inches (0.15 to 0.3 meters), forecasters said.

"In some areas, the water isn't pumping out as fast as it's coming in," warned Miami Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz.

On Sunday night, authorities in Lauderhill, Florida, responded to a report of a car that had driven into a canal. Photos taken by fire units on the scene about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Miami showed rescuers searching high waters near a parking lot.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami declared hurricane and storm surge warnings for the Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay.

Eta had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) on Sunday night and was centered about 30 miles (45 kilometers) east-northeast of Marathon, Florida, and 70 miles (115 kilometers) east-northeast of Key West. It was moving west-northwest at 14 mph (22 kph).

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