FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Across South Florida, the sentiment among residents seems to be the same this weekend: it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Saturday afternoon, 7News cameras captured residents in Doral filling up bags with sand, as Tropical Storm Eta continued to strengthen in the Caribbean Sea.
“At least six, I need six bags, two for each door,” said a woman. “I have to do it today or today.”
It was a similar story in Fort Lauderdale.
“I just gotta get some sandbags, just to be prepared, you know?” said a resident. “It’s better to be prepared than not be prepared.”
The region has seen heavy precipitation during the day, and the system is expected to bring even more rain and potential flooding.
“Flooding is a major concern,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “Miami-Dade County may experience extensive rainfall and gusty winds.”
Many residents took advantage of the drier conditions on Saturday morning before rain bands moved in.
“It’s better to prepare today than be sorry tomorrow,” said a resident.
Just after 10 p.m., a residential street in Fort Lauderdale was already completely flooded.
Miami Beach residents were also seen getting free sandbags on Saturday, as the city is forecast to see several feet of flooding.
“My garage needs sandbags to keep the water out,” said resident Annie Perez. “My soil gets flooded even when there’s no storm.”
Following a wet week, public work crews in Fort Lauderdale are doing what they can in the Melrose Manors neighborhood to try and prevent future flooding, as Eta inches closer to the Sunshine State.
“It’s like a giant sponge. Once that sponge becomes saturated, there’s nowhere for the water to go,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management spokesperson Mike Jachles.
Boaters were also bracing for the inclement weather.
“We’re just gonna tie up our boats real well,” said a boater who identified himself as Captain Jack.
7News cameras captured dozens of vessels tied up at local marinas as the storm inches closer.
“The high waves and the tides is what would be a factor here,” said Captain Jack.
Effective immediately, Miami-Dade County closed all beaches, parks, marinas and golf courses, with a possible reopening of Tuesday.
Crews at Port Everglades also secured things, tying down cranes and shutting down all operations.
“It’s anticipated that we’ll go into condition Zulu tonight, which essentially shuts down facilities,” said Port Everglades Director Jonathan Daniels.
U.S. Coast Guard officials said now is the time to take cover and get off the water.
“This is not the time to be swimming or surfing, because the truth is, when we see a vessel adrift, we assume the worst. We assume that someone is in distress,” said Coast Guard Capt. Jo-Ann Burdian at PortMiami.
Amid the preparations, there’s an overarching feeling of uncertainty about the storm’s path.
“We don’t know what this storm is going to do,” said Perez.
A Hurricane Watch remains in effect between the Florida Keys and Deerfield Beach.
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