Mass Flooding on Key Biscayne: My Experience and What Does it Mean for the Rest of Miami?


Paulino Mercenari

Mass flooding that occurred on the morning of June 4 resulted in businesses opening late, stalled cars, and residents stuck at home.

Paulino Mercenari, Editor-in-Chief

As residents of Miami, we are all used to flooding. After heavy rain it can be normal for social media to be flooded with videos of downtown streets turning into canals: challenging drivers to try to run through the rapids only for their engines to usually stall out. Almost as common are the videos of people making the most of such a day, whether taking to the streets in kayaks, paddle boards, or even wakeboarding the action in the tow of a friend’s pickup truck.


On June 4th I experienced a flooding situation on the island of Key Biscayne unlike any other. I remember waking up particularly early as in around four in the morning early to the nerves of an ACT I was set to take that day. I pulled open my blinds and creaked the window open a smidge, hoping that the outside ambience could help lull me back into sleep. Rain showers had already been off and on throughout most of the night, enough to have transformed the base of my hedges into temporary mangroves for the time being. 

The hours crawled by but the sun never came. Instead, the morning was locked in a state of unnerving twilight as the clouds blocked out the sky. The pounding of rain on the roof that came next was of no surprise as per the clouds overhead— but the steady rate at which the water rose was far more shocking.

By the time I came out of my room, backpack ready with number two pencils and a TI-84 graphing calculator shoved inside for the ACT, I immediately got hit with the sense that I wasn’t leaving. My dad, pacing frantically from room to room, wielding duct-tape as his defending weapon against any invading water trying to get in through the cracks in our doors.

This all felt like a dream to me. Turning my head to a window that faced our downsloping driveway, I saw how the rain had already gotten to the foot of our car doors.

Eventually, right at a critical moment where it looked as if half an inch more of rain would be enough to challenge the precautionary duct tape, it stopped raining just as fast as it had started.

Some residents took advantage of the unfortunate situation. Exploring the strange sights on paddleboard or kayak was a choice. (Paulino Mercenari)

Leaving the house was a challenge entirely on its own as there was nowhere to step, everything was submerged! However, I had made up my mind that I was going to explore this new submerged wasteland. Putting on a pair of water shoes and swimming gear along with equipping a GoPro, I set off from my front door towards my kayak to capture the new conditions my neighborhood found itself in.

Along my adventure, I found neighbors also trekking the polluted waters whether on paddleboard, kayak, or even on foot. Many were friendly and shared the same awestruck and curious expressions on their face that I had. We were all exploring a surreal new semi-aquatic world. 

Some people weren’t so lucky about the situations they found themselves in. Many cars had stalled in the water and could be seen getting towed into shallower areas by tow trucks with much higher suspensions. Others had to trek through knee-high waters to get to wherever they needed to go, potentially putting themselves at risk to pollutants, predators, and damaged electrical wires. Some homeowners also suffered from normally unimaginable worries such as from the wake that cars could now generate and cause damage with.

Areas such as the koi pond by the local library also suffered from overflooding. With the extensive flooding of the pond allowing koi fish to venture out past familiar waters and to encircle areas such as fallen benches and picnic tables.

The flooding began to recede on the same day, but some pools of still-water continued to linger in lower elevation areas for up to three days after the flooding.

Residents with sliding glass doors were especially vulnerable to wake generated by passing vehicles. (Paulino Mercenari)


While this sort of flooding rarely happens in Key Biscayne, the damage that a single tropical downpour caused is undeniable and raises fears that such a natural disaster could occur more often, and to a much more extreme degree, in the future. As such, many residents should begin to plan for the future and take precautionary anti flood measures with their homes. Such as investing in sandbags or building their homes at a recommended elevation. 

The threat of flooding is a real fear outside of the island town, as Miami’s sea level has risen six inches in the past 25 years, one of the fastest rates on the planet. Additionally, “sunny day flooding” has been up by 400 percent since 2006. This means that flooding could occur on any normal day and not necessarily in the presence of a tropical depression. With such flooding only predicted to get worse, all residents will have to gear up (both literally and mentally) for the challenges that await.