LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — People living off the Lake Worth Beach lagoon said the weather left some of their property damaged Thursday night.
"This is the heaviest wind we've had since I've lived here — two and a half years," Perry Reinstein said. "I didn't expect this. Who told us there was a hurricane coming in?"
Reinstein, who lives on 18th Avenue South, told WPTV that the strong waves shoved his Yamaha WaveRunners off his dock and he had to dive in after them. He said they got scuff marks from bumping into each other.
He even saw a boat that was taken by the waves.
"It floated by and hit my neighbor's dock, rested there for a little while, and right now I think it's over by the apartment building against the seawall," Reinstein said.
He lives next door to Carlos Ramirez, who said the road floods in a flash.
"They have to stay there," Ramirez said of the sandbags outside his home.
The area is expecting 4 to 5 inches of rain and wind speeds of about 45 mph.
Lake Worth Beach has been clearing drains in problem areas and will have emergency staff, generators and mobile pumps on standby going into the weekend.
"How easily do these roads flood?" WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked Ramirez.
"I was next door one day at my neighbor's house and it started pouring, and I looked at my Ring camera and within 10 minutes, it was halfway up my driveway," Ramirez said.
The city has invested $1.5 million on a drainage project to flush the water out from 18th Avenue South.
"I'm looking for $1.7 million for the next five years for stormwater projects that we know that we have coming up that we have to deal with due to sea-level rise," Sam Heady, the utility director with the city of Lake Worth Beach, said. "We know that we're going to have a problem, so we're trying to get ahead of it before it happens."
Heady said the contractor has been mobilized and started preparing the lot on 18th Avenue South to install a 12-inch discharge pipe that will be 3 feet underground.
It's one of the many projects Mayor Betty Resch said won't be impacted as they search for their next city manager.
"Lake Worth is a very resilient city, and as far as the city manager is concerned, as far as the flooding is concerned, we're good," Resch said. "We're good."
Resch was not in favor of firing former City Manager Carmen Davis.
"I think it's a terrible loss to the city and I'm very sad about it. I think that she should've been given more directives and given a chance to improve," Resch said. "I think it's a very brutal way to handle a dedicated employee."
Resch said they're working on hiring a recruiter and will be launching a national search for the next city manager.
Public Works Director Jamie Brown is serving as the interim city manager. Brown has been with the city for almost 13 years.
"Luckily this isn't our first rodeo," Brown said. "We know the hot spots in the city that we need to address before the storm comes, while the storm is here and afterward, so we're going to be well prepared."
Brown said heavy swells and strong winds make it dangerous for the pier to be open as it could be damaged, forcing officials to close it for a second day in a row.
He said the weather may force the city to cancel Friday night's bonfire event as the beach has seen erosion.
"Palm Beach County Fire (Rescue) requires 50 feet of beach in order to have an event," Brown said. "We currently have 15 feet from the dune, then we have an 8-foot drop-off and then we have about 40 feet coming from the actual seawall itself, so the beach is quickly eroding at the moment."
He said the beach naturally will regenerate and are looking into resiliency projects in the next budget.
Once the storm has passed, the city will inspect the pier for damage and will reopen it once it's safe to do so.
When asked if he sees himself applying for the city manager position, Brown said he's focused on forward momentum.
"Right now, I'm just looking forward to keeping everything moving forward, and we have a long project ahead of us," he said. "Unfortunate situation, but we have to keep moving forward."