20 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew

By: Mike Springer; FEMA Release; Associated Press Release Email
By: Mike Springer; FEMA Release; Associated Press Release Email

Tallahassee, Florida- August 24, 2012

While two decades have passed since Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, for those who lived through it, the destruction it caused remains fresh in their minds.

"It was in all honestly, something you can't forget because if you do forget, you're not prepared for the next one," says Scott Goodlin who lived in the Miami area during Andrew.

Twenty-years ago, the big one hit.

Hurricane Andrew pummeled Dade County on the morning of August 24, 1992.

The category 5 hurricane brought with it heavy rains and punishing winds to South Florida and left behind a wake of devastation and destruction in its path.

Scott Goodlin was five years-old when Andrew hit but still has vivid memories of it.

"You could see the pool, it was crystal blue and everything like that and we woke up the next day and there were trees in it, it was green, the fence was broken, it was very much a path of destruction," says Goodlin.

Mike DeLorenzo worked for FEMA during Hurricane Andrew.

"There was a lot of devastation as far as mobile homes were concerned. There was one mobile home park with 600 homes and 90 percent were destroyed," says DeLorenzo.

DeLorenzo says Andrew changed the way the state gets ready for oncoming natural disasters. They now monitor and prep for them several days in advance.

"We start ahead of time 72 to 96 hours as we are starting to for Tropical Storm Isaac and making sure we are prepared if we do get an impact."

Hurricane Andrew is the most expensive natural disaster to ever hit the United States. It cause more than $26 billion in damage. It directly killed 26 people and destroyed nearly 49,000 homes.

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Atlanta, Georgia- August 23, 2012

August 24 marks 20 years since Hurricane Andrew made landfall in South Florida, devastating Homestead, Florida City and parts of Miami.

When Andrew struck, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinated across the entire federal government to deploy response assets, move personnel, equipment and supplies. FEMA provided more than $290 million in federal assistance to more than 108,000 people affected by the storm in Florida, and provided more than $746 million to help rebuild public infrastructure. At the time, Hurricane Andrew was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

"Hurricane Andrew was a life-changing event for many people," said FEMA Region IV Administrator Phil May. "As the Federal Coordinating Officer for the disaster, I saw the destruction first hand as FEMA worked with disaster survivors and community officials throughout the area. We knew we had years of recovery ahead of us given the severe impact that this storm had on South Florida communities, and it was clear the government couldn't do it alone. At FEMA we often highlight the importance of working together as a team in emergency management-storms like Andrew remind us how critical that team really is. Federal, state and local partners, the private sector, the faith-based and non-profit groups, and especially the public--everyone rolled up their sleeves and worked together to help people recover from the storm."

"We learned a lot from Hurricane Andrew and today our team is stronger than ever," said May. "Over the years, the emergency management community has evolved and improved the way it communicates and leverages resources to prepare for the next emergency or disaster. We've expanded our relationships with the private sector, our coordination with our state emergency management partners is better, and we communicate more effectively with the public. Weather forecasting technology has also improved to give us more lead time before a storm. But the most critical members of the team are still the public. The better prepared individuals and families are, the safer our communities will be across the country."

Hurricane Andrew's anniversary is a reminder that now is the time to get ready for disasters and other emergencies. Next month marks the ninth annual National Preparedness Month, and this year's slogan is "Pledge to Prepare". Individuals, families and organizations in all sectors can support this effort and find resources on emergency preparedness by 'pledging' on the National Preparedness Coalition Online Community. The goal this year is to transform awareness into action by encouraging all Americans to take specific steps to ensure that their homes, workplaces and communities are ready for disasters and emergencies of all kinds.

"Preparedness is important not just for governments and first responders, but for the public. I encourage everyone to pledge to prepare and visit www.Ready.gov for more information."

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FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

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MIAMI -- August 19, 2012

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew's destruction on South Florida.

The Category 5 storm left at least 15 people dead and more than 150,000 people homeless. Its165 mph winds caused more than $25 billion in damage.

Andrew flattened homes, uprooted trees and destroyed suburban blocks for miles around. Andrew was one of just three Category 5 storms to strike the U.S. in the past 160 years.

Tent cities cropped up and food lines, curfews and patrolling soldiers became the norm in Miami-Dade County.

In its aftermath, building codes were strengthened and insurance rates skyrocketed.


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