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Floods in Florida this week pushed hundreds of people into shelters


More rain could fall in Broward County, Fla., today. That's where massive floods have already shut down government buildings and public schools and displaced hundreds of residents. Some families say they've lost just about everything they own. From member station WLRN, Kate Payne reports.

KATE PAYNE, BYLINE: Dozens of cots lined the floor of a gym at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale. Here families, dogs and a parrot are taking shelter. I met Bay Bell outside. She says she's thankful that she made it here alive.

BAY BELL: And I was rescued by fire and rescue. By the time they got to me, the water was so high the pressure on the front door - I couldn't get out the front door. So I was literally trapped for hours and hours and hours with no way out.

PAYNE: Bell says she had recently moved to the Edgewood neighborhood just north of the Fort Lauderdale Airport, which took on more than 2 feet of rain. When Bell came home after work on Wednesday, she said her apartment was already full of water.

BELL: It was just my mattress that was above water at the worst part of it. So - and at one point, the water was so high, all the appliances in the kitchen began to topple over. And I still had electricity, so the water is potentially a current. So it was really a scary situation.

PAYNE: The rain might not be over yet. Some of the roads leading to this shelter are still so flooded. It's a challenge just to get here. But Dawn Beemer made it, and she's grateful. She showed me the photos of her mobile home near the airport. The trailers in her neighborhood look like they're floating on a lake.

DAWN BEEMER: It'll probably be 40, 50,000 to get everything fixed - you know, mildew, remove all that stuff.

PAYNE: And I mean, is that doable for you?

BEEMER: No, of course not. It's not doable for anybody that's in the community. Nobody.

PAYNE: Beemer says none of her neighbors have flood insurance. She's getting worried about the ones who are still staying in their water-damaged trailers.

BEEMER: What's going to happen now, though, is the heat's picking up, and then, it's going to be stifling 'cause their air conditionings will not work. And then, you know, the mold is going to start.

PAYNE: South Florida was already facing an affordable housing crisis before this storm. Beemer says she has no idea where she and her neighbors will go next.

For NPR News, I'm Kate Payne in Fort Lauderdale.

(SOUNDBITE OF NORTH AMERICANS' "STANLEY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kate Payne
As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.