Miami-Dade scrambling to repair damage from some of the worst floods in two decades
Multiple streetlights are down in Doral. Miami, Hialeah and Doral blocked off roads to deal with continued flooding. Cars now await their owners in tow yards. Employees were trapped overnight at the county’s animal shelter.
Hard and fast rain on Tuesday triggered some of the worst floods in Miami-Dade County since 2000, according to the mayors of Doral and Hialeah. Cities scrambled to repair the damage as flooding returned Wednesday afternoon after three days of intense rainfall.
In a press release, the American Red Cross said it had coordinated emergency aid for more than 60 families impacted by the flooding. Thirty-nine of those families were in a Miami mobile home community, where water entered some homes.
In Miami, the building ground floor in Mary Brickell Village is reportedly below flood elevation, the city’s director of communications, Stephanie Severino, wrote in an email.A spokesperson in Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s office said the pump in the village, which is meant to pump 30,000 gallons per minute, had not yet been completely installed. Additionally, Brickell Avenue, which usually has two pumps, was down to one while the other was out for repairs, wrote Severino.
And on Tuesday, the pump at the Belle Meade Station had a control panel failure and pumps had to be operated in manual mode. Severino wrote that on-call personnel and a maintenance contractor responded “immediately” to resolve problems with the pumps.
Portable pumps were deployed to Brickell Avenue, North Bayshore Drive, northwest South River Drive and Morningside and Belle Meade neighborhoods to control flooding, Severino said. While no canals breached, she wrote, water levels at Comfort Canal became “extremely high” and impacted water drainage in surrounding areas.
The city experienced nearly 18.5 inches of rain over the past four days, she said, and the rain was particularly intense on Monday and Tuesday. As a result, multiple streets were closed on Sunday and Monday. On Wednesday, parts of the city were still experiencing flooding. such as on southwest 34th Avenue.
On Tuesday, the Village of El Portal said it was aware of flooding along the C7 Little River Canal and had reached out to the South Florida Water Management District to request flood gates be opened. El Portal Chief of Police David Magnusson said Wednesday the canal’s water levels weren’t as high anymore.
“It’s not comforting when there’s water coming out of a canal onto your property,” Magnusson said.
Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez said he’s been trying to get state water managers to pump water off the roads in the older part of his city. “I have been trying to get the South Florida Water Management to get to work on this, because the canals were pretty full even before that rain came,” Bermudez told the Miami Herald early Wednesday afternoon. “The canals are still pretty high, for sure.”
Bermudez said the 18 inches of rain the city received mostly affected its eastern, commercial areas. There are multiple road closures where the flooding is still worst, including along 79th Avenue.
That was one of four locations around the county where crews were dispatched Wednesday to pump water from the roads, said Jennie Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works. Around 5 p.m., crews were en route to Northwest 79th Avenue between 25th Street and 36th Street.
By late Wednesday afternoon, Lopez said, 16 of the 18 county-run stormwater pump stations had stopped pumping water, meaning they had returned to normal levels.
“It’s an ongoing process as we try to mitigate the situation,” Lopez said.
Animal shelter shuts down
The road closure forced the county’s animal shelter on 79th Avenue in Doral to close on Wednesday.
Flora Beal, a spokesperson for the shelter, said about a dozen employees had to stay in the shelter overnight because flooding was too severe for them to drive home.
“It’s just dangerous when you have cars that are getting stalled,” Beal said. “The safest thing for them to do at that point was to stay at the shelter overnight.”
Beal said employees were able to use “gently used” bedding and comforters the shelter has for hurricane shifts. She said there was no flooding inside the facility, but water was still pooled in front of the shelter Wednesday afternoon. The county department was working with staff members to get vehicles towed that were caught in the flooding.
Bermudez said that while rain levels have gone down, there is “no doubt” there is still flooding in some of the city’s most problematic areas, such as between 25th and 58th streets. He said the private, older roads are more vulnerable to flooding.
Bermudez said a “good number” of street lights lost power Tuesday, and some are still offline.
While some businesses have closed, Bermudez said, the city is working on getting sandbags to businesses that are open to prepare for continued rain.
“This is probably one of the worst [storms] I’ve seen,” Bermudez, who has lived in Doral for 20 years, said. “If you don’t have to go out today, don’t go out.”
Other cities scramble
Most of Hialeah was dry again by Wednesday afternoon, but flooding remained a problem on the west side of the city, particularly between West Eighth and West 12th avenues, 31st and 28th streets, 30th and 24th streets and West Second and Palm avenues, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández said. He said police officers and blockades remain in those parts of the city.
Hernández said there were reports of water getting into some houses in the residential area between West Eighth and 12th avenues.
The rain was just too much, too fast, said Hernández. The flooding forced Hernández to postpone Tuesday’s City Council meeting until Thursday.
“We haven’t had anything like this since 2000,” Hernández said. The flooding that year “was worse but we haven’t had anything like this in a long, long time.”
Both Bermudez and Hernández saw cars being towed Tuesday night. Hernández said vehicles had to be towed from the Okeechobee overpass because the pump meant to push water away was hit by lightning.
A pump station also went out in Opa-locka on Tuesday, City Manager John Pate said in an email to elected officials. Pate said the failure of the county station, which takes on Opa-locka’s wastewater and stormwater, caused “a larger issue last night than the city is accustomed to.”
Also in Opa-locka, which declared a flooding emergency last year due to its failing infrastructure, police responded Wednesday morning to an apartment complex, Glorieta Gardens near Northwest 135th Street and 32nd Avenue, over concerns that the ceiling might cave in from the rainwater. First responders concluded there was no immediate danger of a collapse, according to an email sent by the police department.
At the Cordoba Courts apartments at Northwest 135th Street and 22nd Avenue, resident Shalonda Rivers said the flooding was worse than she had ever seen before. One of her neighbors in the same complex had water seeping into her apartment through the floors, she said.
Residents of Opa-locka have dealt as recently as 2018 with feces leaking into flooded streets after it rains, but Mayor Matthew Pigatt said Wednesday that he hadn’t heard of any similar issues from the latest storm. Over the past four years, Pigatt said, the city has gone from having just two fully operational wastewater pump stations to having 16.
Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid said flooding continues in West Lakes and Royal Oaks, the two areas of the town Cid said do not have outfalls into lakes or canals. He added that a drainage project for Royal Oaks costing $1.2 million is underway, and a drainage project for West Lakes costing almost $2 million will begin in August. He said water in the rest of the town had dissipated by Wednesday afternoon.
“All of our lakes, actually, are pretty much right at the rim,” Cid said. “There’s not much more capacity.”
Some shops stay open
Despite the downpour, many businesses throughout the county continued operating on Tuesday and Wednesday. Steve’s Pizza on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami continued to fill orders despite being “360 degrees surrounded” by water.
“We didn’t have any water inside the store — except for when a car came by and made a wave, we’d get some water in the dining room,” owner Jesse Valinsky said of Tuesday’s rain. The restaurant has not yet opened its dining room to customers.
Valinsky said that in some areas of Biscayne the water was a few inches deep but in others it was a few feet. He said because the infrastructure is overloaded, it doesn’t take much rain to cause issues, and Tuesday’s rain was “beyond anything from any previous hurricane or anything like that.”
“[But] we’re like the post office over here, we don’t ever close. Even if we have to put the ovens on the roof,” Valinsky said. “I just, man, I hope this isn’t the new normal.”
A catastrophic dam failure at a Michigan hydropower facility this month has left thousands stranded, highlighting the fact that when it comes to clean energy, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
The events were like the stereotypical action movie. Surreal, actually. And if you weren’t living it, it would be nearly impossible to believe…
A deadly Wuhan-originating virus, complete with unknown properties and remedies, makes its way to major U.S. cities. It spreads. The entire economy shuts down, leaving tens of millions of people without work and scrambling to find hand sanitizer and toilet paper—and debt-laden oil companies withering on the vine, threatening the very notion of America’s energy independence.
Then, just as the spread of the virus begins to slow, major rainfall, combined with what could be kindly described as negligence, collapses a hydropower dam, requiring the evacuation of 10,000 residents near Midland, Michigan.
Now, as Midland residents move to sue the dam owner, the latter is pointing fingers at state regulators. Others are placing the blame squarely on FERC, the government body tasked with issuing licenses to generate electricity from dams.
Whoever is at fault, the tragedy raises critical questions of the viability of the renewables segment that has been hailed as the cheapest form of power the world over.
Last week, the Edenville dam in Michigan experienced a catastrophic failure after particularly heavy rains. The dam, which is owned and operated by an independent company Boyce Hydro Power LLC and generates electricity to sell on to utility companies, also holds back Wixom Lake from the Tittabawassee River. About 10,000 mid-Michigan residents were evacuated, and a state of emergency declared. (Make that another state of emergency, as one already exists in Michigan for the coronavirus pandemic.)
Photos by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The collapse of the dam then triggered another failure of a second dam, the Sanford dam. Then yet another structure, the Poseyville Dike, followed suit. More water, more evacuations.
Midland, home to 42,000 residents, is also home to Dow Chemical, which lies on the banks of the Tittabawassee River, unfortunately positioned downstream from both the Edenville and Sanford dams.
The flooding was thought to be the worst in 500 years.
How much of the disaster can rightfully be pinned on torrential rains is still in question, in part because the dam just wasn’t up to snuff in the first place.
Boyce Hydro’s Edenville Dam
The Edenville dam is a 4.8 MW project that generates and sells electricity to power companies such as Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison. It has been doing so for decades, but there have been major problems with the dam that have gone unattended.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which grants licenses for hydropower projects in the United States, dinged Boyce Hydro for their Edenville dam project decades ago. Yes, decades.
The problem? According to FERC, the project needed to increase its spillway capacity, due to a concern that the project was unable to pass the Probable Maximum Flood, or PMF. This is a metric that defines the largest predictable storm.
Boyce considers that this has been calculated to occur once in a million years. It is likely this belief that has contributed in part to the spillway being capable of handling only half the PMF.
The problem is, we’ve just seen that maximum flood.
When FERC first identified the spillway deficiencies in 1999, the project was owned by Wolverine Power Corp. The project and its license were transferred to Boyce in 2004.
Fast forward twenty years and nothing has been done to increase the project’s spillway capacity. And in fact, FERC suspended Boyce’s license to generate power from the dam in 2018 due to its failure to bring the project into compliance “knowingly and willfully”.
While Boyce appealed the suspension, FERC denied the request, saying in part,
„We have previously concluded that “Boyce Hydro has, for more than a decade, knowingly and willfully refused to comply with major aspects of its license and the Commission’s regulatory regime, with the result that public safety has been put at risk and the public has been denied the benefits, particularly project recreation, to which it is entitled” and that “[t]he record demonstrates that there is no reason to believe that Boyce Hydro will come into compliance; rather, the licensee has displayed a history of obfuscation and outright disregard of its obligations.”
Boyce, however, argues that the local regulatory body pushed Boyce in April to raise water levels in the lake prior to the flooding.
Either way, it is unclear why twenty years of insufficiency spillway was tolerated by either the FERC or by local residents or local regulators. Boyce, for its part, claimed it could not perform the work because it didn’t have the money, nor did it have access to loans to get the money, according to Powermag. While it agreed to commit funds starting in 2010 and earmark them specifically for improvements, Boyce instead produced nothing but more extension requests and stalling.
Economics of hydropower
This calls into the question of economics. If Boyce couldn’t make ends meet for its hydropower project, is it really the lowest cost electricity around?
About 7% of America’s electricity was generated from hydropower in 2017, making it the largest source of renewable energy, according to the NREL. It also accounts for 40% of the nation’s renewable energy. More than 2400 hydropower systems produce this 40% of renewable electricity in the United States, about half of which are operated by private organizations, not electric utilities, according to Idaho National Laboratory.
According to a study conducted by Navigant Consulting and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), levelized costs for hydropower electricity is roughly 2 cents per kWh. This assumes, however, state and federal incentives, of which there are many.
Levelized Cost of Electricity
The economical nature of hydropower, however, may be less so if plants are allowed to deteriorate, in which case they “may require constant attention and major refurbishment”, according to Dr. Paul Deane, Senior Research Fellow at MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, Environmental Research Institute hosted by the University College Cork.
Most large hydro projects in the US and in Western Europe were built between 1940 and 1970, Deane said, with many smaller projects built before that when environmental regulation and safety standards were more relaxed.
Built in 1925, the Edenville dam was one of these early projects.
“Some of these plants may now require some form of rehabilitation,” according to Deane.
Hydropower and the environment
The environmental aspect of hydropower is also not without blemish. According to the EIA, dams that divert water to run-of-river hydropower plants may obstruct fish migration, change natural water temperatures, alter water chemistry, and change silt loads. These changes often have a cascading effect, which could impact native plants and animals in and around the river.
And the concerns don’t stop there. This recent failure highlights the devastating effects of a dam failure, which came on the back of another major hydropower dam failure in California in 2017, with the Oroville Dam. That failure resulted in a $1.1 billion cost for the emergency response, debris removal, and fixing the spillway structure and overflow channel.
Whatever the ramifications of the Edenville dam failure, it should shine a new light on hydropower regulations, which the renewables industry should support if it hopes to prevent future disasters that could deliver more renewable black eyes in their quest to one day overtake fossil fuels.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
The weather may not be much better Saturday afternoon for the rescheduled launch of a SpaceX rocket ship with two NASA astronauts on board, forecasters say.
Wednesday’s launch was scrubbed due to bad weather in the area.
According to the National Weather Service, there is a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday afternoon at Cape Canaveral, Florida. „Storms are likely to develop near the coast, pushing gradually inland later in the afternoon,” said Matt Volkmer, senior meteorologist at the weather service office in Melbourne, Florida.
The rescheduled launch is set for 3:22 p.m. Saturday.
If that, too, is delayed, 3 p.m. Sunday has been slated for liftoff of the 230-foot-tall rocket. Sunday’s forecast calls for a 50% chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms, the weather service predicts.
‘More irons in the fire than almost any human on the planet’: How Elon Musk took SpaceX from an idea to the cusp of making history
Severe weather brought wind, rain and lightning to the Space Coast throughout the day Wednesday, leading to a tornado warning and a weather advisory hours before the planned launch.
According to the Capital Weather Gang, weather rules were „violated” Wednesday that prevented the launch, including the presence of natural lightning and an attached anvil, a towering thunderstorm top that can generate an electric field and trigger lightning when in contact with a rocket’s plume.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: SpaceX launch Saturday weather forecast: More rain, thunderstorms
Much of the Maritimes is basking in warm temperatures — perhaps a little too warm for places in New Brunswick that could cross the 30-mark. Thursday will feature another chance for severe thunderstorms that could bring heavy rain and strong winds to New Brunswick. Newfoundland is still on the cooler side, but their turn at warmth will come Friday. What to expect, below.
- Warm across the Maritimes, temperatures at or above 30°C in parts of New Brunswick
- Severe thunderstorm risk for parts of northern New Brunswick on Thursday
- Chance of rain, thunderstorms this weekend
- Keep on top of weather ALERTS in your area
THURSDAY: WARMTH, HIGH HUMIDITY CONTINUE
Very warm and humid conditions are expected on Thursday across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with many cities reaching the upper 20s and lower 30s.
Newfoundland looks to stay mostly in the teens with St. John’s at 17°C and Gander will be the only city on the island that could exceed 20°C.
Places seeing moderate daytime highs will seem even hotter thanks to the humidity. In New Brunswick, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the heat covering much of the north and west of the province.
Northern regions of New Brunswick are seeing the potential for thunderstorms that could bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and small hail.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY: WARMTH CONTINUES AS RAIN TRACKS IN
Halifax through to Sydney will still see temperatures in the mid-20s on Friday and Newfoundland will finally see temperatures begin to climb. There is currently the potential for temperatures to reach 22°C in St. John’s and as high as 27°C in Gander.
Some relief will come by the weekend, however, thanks to an area of low pressure that will track from northern Quebec to Labrador late Friday through Saturday, dragging a cold front across Atlantic Canada for this weekend.
It will also bring a period of rain and thunderstorms, enhanced by a couple of systems tracking along the front. Cooler weather is expected across the region next week.
Stay tuned to The Weather Network as we continue to monitor the forecast.