Tags: delray | beach | flooding | leaves | dead

Delray Beach Flooding Leaves 2 Dead, Shuts I-95 in Florida

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 11:38 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Delray Beach flooding in Florida early Friday morning left two people dead and forced the closure of several area schools as well as a partial shutdown of Interstate 95, the first time in its history the highway has been closed due to flooding.

More than 22 inches of water fell in certain areas around I-95, though the figures couldn't be confirmed by the National Weather Service, which described it as "historically heavy rain," the Sun Sentinel reported.

"An incredible rainfall rate," said Robert Molleda, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, the Sentinel reported. "There is no way we could forecast that much rain in that short a time."

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Elsa Marquez, 56, was the first to die as a result of the flooding, when shortly before 8 a.m. she drove her Toyota Rav 4 into a lake after crossing a flooded intersection. Palm Beach fire rescue crews and bystanders reportedly attempted to get Marquez out of her car to no avail.

Police divers from Palm Beach County and Delray Beach were eventually able to get her loose from the car. She was subsequently taken to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Two hours later, 90-year-old Harry Krulewitz, who apparently depends on his cane for mobility, was attempting to walk in waist-deep water when he slipped and fell into a canal. Divers later found him at the bottom of the canal. He was subsequently pronounced dead, the Sentinel reported.

Area schools were reportedly closed as of 5 a.m. Friday morning after the National Weather Service warned of potential flash floods in the area.

"Our district is so big that we were getting flooding in all different parts of the county so we didn't want to only close certain schools," district spokesman Owen Torres said. "We decided to ultimately to close all the campuses to make sure everything is OK."

Due to the flooding and subsequent closure of parts of Interstate 95, traffic was diverted into other area roadways leading to traffic jams of monumental proportions.

"This is the first time the entire highway had to be closed because of flooding," Chuck McGinness, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, told the Sentinel.

"Having I-95 closed killed us," Boynton Beach City Manager Lori LaVerriere added. "It diverted traffic to Congress Avenue and Congress floods. We had to call in extra police shifts and tows to help a lot of the flooded vehicles."

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