A 10-hour commute and abandoned cars: South Florida’s awful rainy day on the roads

Angela Shlyakhov’s commute from downtown Fort Lauderdale to her home in Sunny Isles Beach lasted almost 10 hours on Wednesday, quite a bit longer than usual.

“Our office had lunch at Boatyard, and we got out of there at around 2:45 p.m.,” said Shlyakhov, who works as a paralegal. “The whole lot was flooded, so I proceeded to go straight to my house, and the traffic was crazy.”

Shlyakhov’s journey through traffic snarls — the product of the punishing rainfall that flooded swaths of South Florida this week — got worse after a passerby told her to stay on U.S. 1 and go through Hallandale Beach.

“So I was doing that and got stuck in Hallandale for hours,” she said. She made it home after midnight.

While Shlyakhov was able to get home in her vehicle, others left their cars after they stalled out in the floodwater. Vehicles pocked waterlogged roadways Thursday morning, the aftermath of a blast of tropical weather that frustrated drivers and swamped cars in several stretches of Miami-Dade and Broward.

READ MORE: ‘It needs to stop’: Another night of rain could tip South Florida neighborhoods over the edge

Hollywood police reported about 88 rescues and about 50 cars towed, numbers that could rise. On Thursday, tow companies in Miami Beach offered free services to help clear roadways.

AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said there was a 15% increase in calls for emergency roadside assistance as of Thursday afternoon, adding that the numbers were likely to rise because service was suspended Wednesday night during the worst of the downpour.

“We expect to see service call numbers rise as we continue working with our members in the coming days,” he said.

Water leaks from a blue minivan after floodwaters inundated the vehicle, which was parked at Royal Palm Mobile Home Park on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Residents at the mobile home park are dealing with the aftermath of Wednesday’s storm that left their community flooded.
Water leaks from a blue minivan after floodwaters inundated the vehicle, which was parked at Royal Palm Mobile Home Park on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Residents at the mobile home park are dealing with the aftermath of Wednesday’s storm that left their community flooded.

During a window of relatively dry weather Thursday, people were picking up the pieces after more than a foot of rain fell on the region. State Farm reported more than 300 vehicular flood claims from South Florida as of early Thursday, according to spokesman Michal Brower. That number could increase with more inches of rain predicted for Thursday evening.

In Miami Beach, Christina Ramos spent her Thursday afternoon cleaning up the mess in front of her Crespi Boulevard apartment. The floodwater reached her front door step.

She said it has been a recurring issue since she bought her apartment in 1995, and it’s only gotten worse.

“The city says it’s trying to find solutions, but it’s always the same problem,” said Ramos.

Last year, her son lost his car in similar weather, and she said this year she saw many of her neighbors’ cars had to be towed away.

“You can’t have a low car in this area, or the flooding will ruin it,” said Ramos.

Shlyakhov, the paralegal from Sunny Isles, has felt that sting before. Last year in April, she lost her Mitsubishi in similar weather taking the same route home from work.

“Last year, when I got stuck in east Hollywood, the sewage drain that I was stuck over popped and filled my car with sewage while I was in it,” she said.

She had to pay a stranger in a truck $300 to take her home that night. She said she was dropped by her car insurance company, Progressive, following the loss of her car last year in the rain and is now considered a “high-risk driver” and has to pay $500 a month in car insurance.

Wednesday night was a cheaper — but longer — ride home.

“The 10 hours I was on the road was because any time I tried to pull off to go to the bathroom or get water, it took that long to get back into line,” she said. “People were not very kind. They weren’t letting you in.”

An abandoned vehicle is seen along a flooded street in a residential area of North Miami, Florida, near Northeast 123rd Street on Thursday, June 13, 2024.
An abandoned vehicle is seen along a flooded street in a residential area of North Miami, Florida, near Northeast 123rd Street on Thursday, June 13, 2024.