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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A day after torrential rains caused massive flooding, residents and business owners are wondering why pumps meant to deal with flooding didn’t work.
Bobby Thakore owns the Taste bakery on Alton Road and 13th Street. Water was bubbling up inside his business.
“The flooding was so bad the water was coming out of the drains inside the restaurant,” said Thakore.
There was also major flooding at Pubbelly Sushi restaurant in Sunset Harbour, off of Alton Road and 17th Street – an area known for its flood issues. That’s why the city approved the installation of three pumps in the area.
On Tuesday, those pumps shutdown for 45 minutes because the storm blew out the power and the pumps weren’t equipped with backup generators.
The city knew about the generator problem. They’ve been in talks since February to get two of them installed.
“Hurricane Matthew came through last October. We realized that we had a need,” said Assistant City Manager Eric Carpenter.
That was six months ago. The reason why they haven’t been installed yet – money. The city is trying to drop the million-dollar price tag to $800 thousand.
After yesterday’s chaos, the Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine released a statement saying in part,
“I have directed city staff to immediately pursue emergency procurement procedures to secure the generators to prevent future flooding as seen yesterday.”
But how long will that take?
The earliest is 90 days! So, if we are hit with a major storm during hurricane season Miami Beach will get more major flooding.
The sea level rise and flooding mitigation project began in the summer of 2014. Residents were promised the project would be done in 5 years. However, Miami Beach is three years in and only 15 percent done.
“It’s taking us a little bit longer than we originally anticipated,” said Carpenter.
There are only 13 pumps of 60 installed, but even when they are installed, Miami Beach may not stay afloat.
“We got 6 inches in 2 hours. We are designed to handle 7 and a half inches in 24 hour period,” said Carpenter.
The city says be patient – for a very long time.
“Listen, we really think this is more like a ten-year program,” said Carpenter.
In the meantime, businesses are sinking literally and financially.
“We lost a couple of thousands of dollars…so today is really slow for us also,” said Thakore.
The pump on Alton Road and 14th Street, in front of Taste Bakery, doesn’t have a generator either but there are no official plans to install one anytime soon.