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What one resident described as flooding of “biblical proportions” struck Fort Lauderdale, Florida Wednesday and Thursday. In just 24 hours, more than two feet of rain fell across parts of the South Florida area. By Thursday afternoon, millions of people remained under flood watches and warnings with the threat of more rain to come.
The unprecedented flooding prompted the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport to close as its runways disappeared under feet of water. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all of Broward County in what CBS News calls “a 1-in-1000 year rainfall event”.
Drone footage shows a dramatic scene in the downtown area as flooding begin to recede. Scores of cars remain strewn across the road; abandoned as the waters rose.
The historic weather comes during what is typically Florida’s dry season. Between mid-October and mid-May, the state usually only receives 30% of its average annual rainfall. Fort Lauderdale has received nearly 40% of its average annual rainfall since Wednesday morning.
For scientists and public officials, the event is a stark reminder of the rapidly escalating effects of climate change.
Fort Lauderdale a reminder of the threat climate change poses to vulnerable communities and communities of color
Roughly one in every seven residents in the city lives in poverty, according to 2020 census data. Studies from the World Economic Forum show the economically disadvantaged communities across the globe will be hit hardest by the changing climate.
In addition to the increased flood risks, rising temperatures and the possibility of crop shortages threaten the wellbeing of vulnerable Americans.
On the other side of the country, thousands of miles from Fort Lauderdale, some of California’s most productive farmland is also underwater. Snowmelt from a record-breaking winter season has washed miles of roads and crops across the state. Communities along rivers and waterways are already bracing as the waters begin to rise.
A Washington Post study confirms that, in 2021, over 40% of Americans lived in a county affected by extreme weather. Many of these areas, including New York, Detroit, New Orleans and more, are communities comprised primarily by people of color.
As Fort Lauderdale, also home to large communities of color, prepares for more rain over the coming days, officials are urging residents to remain off the roads until the water finally recedes.