Winds reaching 80-miles-per-hour battered Ft. Lauderdale this morning as the city remained in a state of emergency. Thousands were without electrical power and some east-side sector homes were threatened with flooding.
More than 15,000 Ft. Lauderdale homes were temporarily without electrical power and another 15,000 shared the same fate throughout Broward.
More than 1,500 homes were temporarily cut off from telephone service as gale force winds which reached hurricane strength in spurts battered the boarded up city.
Mayor Edward Johns, who conducted a tour of the city early this morning, indicated emergency measures might be lifted this afternoon but warned some low-lying Las Olas Blvd. area homes faced possible inundation.
Only one injury - not serious - marred the storm until shortly before noon - but others may be reported later.
Main property damage may result from flooding. City officials said other private damage caused by wind was mostly restricted to store windows, shutters and uprooted trees.
Utilities took the usual beating but were making inroads towards restoring service by this afternoon. Florida Power & Light and Southern Bell spokesmen agreed "damage could have been worse."
Johns, City Manager Donald Wolfer and Police Chief Lester Hold toured the city this morning and found little property damage yet apparent - although a flurry of storm-mashed windows was reported in Wilton Manors just before noon.
"We'll continue the city's emergency status until the safety of residents and visitors appear assured," said Johns.
He said crews to clean up the debris and mess caused by the winds and high waters were standing by for the word to start.
Roadblocks sealing off Ft. Lauderdale Beach were still in effect this afternoon, and Johns expressed concern over possible flooding of some low-lying eastern sectors if rains persist.
All police and firemen remained on emergency call. They patroled the streets last night, and kept streets clear.
Harried Mayor Johns and City Traffic Engineer Francis Mays made an earlier tour of the city shortly after midnight Friday.
They found little storm damage at that time, and pinpointed as most serious the potential flooding of the areas east of the IntraCoastal Waterway on Ft. Lauderdale Beach and the homes in the Las Olas island sector.
Five hours before the inspection trip by Johns and Mays, Police Chief Holt recommended all residents in those east-city sectors be evacuated in the face of potential flooding.
Many promptly followed Holt's request and fled to comparitive safety at fast-filling beach hotels. Others elected to stick it out at home.
While police and sheriff's cruisers reported little property damage in the initial phases of the storm yesterday, under-manned utility and Civil Defense workers attempted to keep pace with breakdowns.
More than a score of wires were downed in Ft. Lauderdale proper, but police, firemen and linemen managed to secure the "hot" wires and prevent fires and possible injuries.
As of press time today, only one report had been verified of a storm-injury, Security Officer Zed (Slim) Draper, 56, of the Candlelight Inn on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, broke his ankle at the inn last night. He was treated at Broward General Hospital.
A power failure at Broward General Hospital lasted only an hour this morning - from 5:45 to 6:50 a.m. Auxiliary power was used and no important services were affected.
Hospital spokesmen reported that except for the power failure, things last night and early this morning were "amazingly" quiet.
Volunteers were still sought early this morning to relieve weary workers attending to the estimated 5,000 persons who sought safety yesterday and early today in the county's 63 Red Cross shelters.
Workers, who toiled unstintingly from yesterday about noon, were attempting to drum up dinners for the sheltered. Milk and donuts seemed the order of the day.
Police had roadblocks up at all entry points to Donna-drenched Ft. Lauderdale beach. Road A1A (Atlantic Blvd.) had a ten-foot surf.
The city force was doubled at 7 p.m. last night as Chief Holt ordered his "graveyard shift" to report to duty immediately.
Additions to the force were assigned to hospitals, shelters and other emergency headquarters. Some worked through yesterday and into Saturday's morning hours.
Emergency FP&L crews reported scattered trouble all through the gale winds last night and into today and were re-doubling their efforts as Donna diminished her tempo late this morning.
First incident of a plate glass window smashed was reported at 7 a.m. at the Sinclair Service Station at 5 Federal Hwy. and 12th Ct.
Officers last night had to rout some bathers from the churning surf off the beach just prior to setting up road blocks.
A fire which may or may not have been caused by Donna destroyed a Thorington Construction Co. storage house at 524 S.E. 5th Ct., and a new car stored inside early today. Firemen under Assistant Chief A.J. Kottkamp subdued the blaze after a 45-minute battle.
Windows were broken out shortly before noon today at five Wilton Manors firms: Smith Drugs and the Eagle Army store in the 2200 block of N. Dixie Hwy.: the Ben Franklin store, 2701 N. Dixie Hwy., National Realty at 3303 N. Andrews Ave., and Kent Cleaners, the 2200 block of Wilton Dr.
A roof was partially torn off the Bay Service Station, Wilton Dr. and N.E. 11th Ave.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times