By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As Tropical Depression Fred approaches South Florida, the Director of Emergency Management for Miami-Dade has a series of warnings for residents and visitors.

Director Frank Rollason tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “This is going to be a rain event. There could be a lot of rain, with the windy conditions. Be careful of downed power lines. Often we see after these events the sun comes out and the kids are out and they start playing in the water and all of that is dangerous. There could be debris in the water with boards and nails and the water could be energized by electricity with downed power lines.”

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Rollason says to be careful driving your vehicles.

“If you are driving afterwards and the road is flooded across, we recommend that you not drive through it,” says Rollason. “There could be problems with the roadways when cars drive through and portions of the road may have collapsed because of saturation from the water.”

Driving at night can be hazardous.

Rollason said, “What happens at night is that you have your headlights on and you can not tell where the edge of the road is. People sometimes drive on to the swale area and that is soft and there can then be damage to your vehicle.”

He adds Miami-Dade is at level 3, meaning the Emergency Operations Center will not be activated, but it will be staffed and the storm will be monitored through Saturday and into Sunday.

Bags of sand were given away for free by City of Miami Parks Department employees at Grapeland Park at 1550 N.W. 37th Ave. and at Legion Park at 6447 N.W. 7th Ave. A city spokeswoman at Grapeland Park said they were prepared to hand out 2,000 bags of sand. Each person was limited to eight bags.

Elizabeth Toledo said, “I had street flooding last night. The weather is something I always have to be concerned about. We live in Miami. This is something we are used to, taking precautions and being safe is very important.”

Evelyn Gomez said she was worried about the possibility of flooding and strong winds.

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“I am getting sand to put in in my doors,” she said.

Randy Smith, a spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District, said workers have lowered the levels of canals to prepare for stormwater runoff. The water has been diverted to the ocean.

He said, “Ahead of the storm, what we want to do is make sure there’s plenty of room in the canals with all the stormwater runoff.” Eleven temporary pumps are assisting pumping stations like the one in Davie off Orange Drive near 441.

Miami Beach has already taken precautions as there has been some street flooding overnight. Miami Beach has gone to a level 2, activating its emergency management operations.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, “We are taking proactive steps like deploying portable pumps to low-lying areas of the city.”

Kimberly Martin lives near South Beach and said, “There are different spots on Miami Beach that flood more than others but I think the city has done a good job taking care of flooding as best they can.”

Palm Island resident Sophia Iacovelli said, “I am not nervous about Fred. I was born and raised here so I have been through a lot of hurricanes and storms. I really don’t get scared until it’s a Category 5.”

Although Miami-Dade and Broward are not included in the forecast cone, there is a Flood Watch in effect this evening through Sunday night across South Florida because we are on the east side, or the “dirty side” of the system which may result in heavy rain and localized flooding. Rainfall totals through the weekend may range from 4 to 7 inches with isolated higher amounts.

The heaviest and most widespread rain is expected Friday night through Saturday night.

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Heavy rainfall leads to street flooding so here are some tips to ensure your safety.

  • If you live in areas that are prone to flooding, clear storm drains and rain gutters of debris.
  • Avoid going outside during strong inclement weather. Instead, stay indoors during the storm and tune to local news updates for information.
  • If you need to drive somewhere, make sure that your headlights and windshield wipers are in good condition prior to leaving the house.
  • When it starts raining, turn on your headlights, reduce your speed, and keep one space between you and the car ahead.
  • If you begin to feel threatened by the rain, pull over until it calms down.
  • If flooding begins in your area, go to higher ground.
  • When driving, always be aware that the road bed under flood waters may be severely damaged. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.
    Remember that it takes only two feet of water to carry away a vehicle, including pickups and SUVs. TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN
  • If your vehicle stalls, get out immediately and go to higher ground.
  • Be extra cautious at night when it is harder to see possible flood dangers.
  • When walking, do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Remember that it takes only six inches of rushing water to knock an adult off his feet.
  • If inclement weather brings lightning, use the “30-30 Rule” when you see lightning by counting until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, seek shelter immediately because the storm is close enough to be dangerous.
  • When outside, avoid being the tallest object. Don’t stand under or near an isolated tree or small group of trees.
  • Get inside a sturdy structure before the storm approaches and don’t stand by open windows, doors or patios during the storm.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances. Don’t use the telephone during a storm unless it’s an emergency.
  • Get out of boats and away from water.
  • If someone is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Peter D'Oench