17 Years After Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Andrew made landfall in southern Dade County on August 24, 1992 as a Category 5 hurricane.  The National Hurricane Center report issued soon after the event stated “Andrew was a small but ferocious Cape Verde hurricane that wrought unprecedented economic devastation along a path through the northwestern Bahamas, the southern Florida peninsula, and south-central Louisiana.”  Damage in the United States was estimated to be near $25 billion (in 1992 dollars), making Andrew the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history up to that time.

National Weather Service Radar Image of Hurricane Andrew (courtesy NOAA Hurricane Research Division)

National Weather Service Radar Image of Hurricane Andrew (courtesy NOAA Hurricane Research Division)

The above picture was the last full image from the National Weather Service (NWS) radar before the radome was blown off the top of the National Hurricane Center which at the time was located in Coral Gables, Florida.  One good thing that came out of Andrew was that the NWS got a new Doppler radar earlier than originally scheduled.

Since Andrew, hurricane forecasts have gotten better, building codes have been improved in Florida (especially in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties), government hurricane plans have been updated, and emergency managers are coordinating much better at the local, state and federal levels.

All of that is well and good.  But unless individuals make the effort to develop their own disaster plan, the outcome during the next hurricane disaster will not be what it could and should be.  If for some reason you have not developed a hurricane disaster plan, I suggest you go to www.floridadisaster.org  for step by step instructions.   Making a plan in advance can mean the difference between being a victim and being a survivor.


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