Hurricane Andrew 1992: Consequences

Table of Content

On August 24, 1992 Hurricane Andrew slammed into the South Florida, devastating Homestead, Florida City and parts of Miami, then continued northwest across the Gulf of Mexico to strike Louisiana coastline. In all, the storm caused 15 deaths directly, 25 deaths indirectly and $30 billion in property damage, making it the costliest disaster in U. S. History. More than 250,000 people were left homeless; 82,000 businesses were destroyed or damaged; about 100,000 residents of South Dade County permanently left eh area in Andrew’s wake.

Andrew also had a serve impact on the environment it damaged 33 percent of the coral reefs at Biscayne National Park, and 90 percent of South Dade’s hammocks. It also created 30 years worth of debris. Hurricane Andrew is the second most destructive hurricane in United States history, Hurricane Andrew was the first named hurricane of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season, and it struck in August. Andrew damaged areas in the northwestern Bahamas, South Central Florida area, south of Miami. Hurricane Andrew’s Beginnings.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Andrew started as a tropical wave from Africa, which spawned a tropical depression, which then became Tropical Storm Andrew the next day. The storm actually almost dissipated on August 20, but then when it was midway between Bermuda and Puerto Rico, it began turning westward into a much more favorable environment. Andrew made landfall twice while it was moving through the Bahamas. The storm then was made weakened after it made landfall the second time. It maintained strong winds though and the pressure kept rising.

However while it was crossing the Gulf Stream, it gained strength quickly and became a category 5 hurricane briefly while it made landfall over South Florida on August 24, with the pressure being at 922 mbar and wind speeds of 165 miles per hour. Hurricane Andrew then continued in the westward direction, towards the Gulf of Mexico, as a Category 4 hurricane, where it then gradually turned north. This brought the hurricane to central Louisiana’s coast on August 26th, by then though it was only a Category 3. It then turned north east and merged with a front system over the Mid Atlantic States.

The following recounts of Hurricane Andrew are from the Metro Dade Fire Services which is a 1. 400 member department. It is the largest fire rescue department in the South east, serving 700 square miles with a population of over two million people. Metro Dade is responsible for all Dade County, Florida. The county has four other smaller departments, all which are part of a mutual aid agreement with Metro Dade. Metro Dade had advised that the 911 system did stay up during the hurricane. But by the time they were able to respond, they had 150 calls pending.

It was very stressful for everyone we had to tell people that we just couldn’t get out of our stations. During the storm Metro Dade was getting calls for people falling off roofs, and hit by debris, also a 10 year old in respiratory distress. But Metro Dade could not respond. Metro Dade created task force teams, and divided the county into grids. Each team was responsible for primary search and rescue for their grid. They had to complete one grad each day, going door to door, talking to neighbors who might know of any missing people. Lessons were also learned. Our biggest problem was handling the logistics of mutual aid, says Chief Paulison. We had units from all over the Southeast. Some didn’t check in, but just went right to work. Early on, we had problems finding out just how many rescues we had to work with. The issue with so many calls resulting from people who hurt themselves while trying to clean up or rebuild their homes. Disaster Medical Assistance teams (DMATs) help in Andrew’s aftermath. One team recalls their work area as a “War Zone” these are the words that described our home for the next eight days.

The few trees left standing were shredded. There were no birds. Nothing was green. Debris was everywhere. Even chain link fences were knocked down. Armed soldiers directed traffic and patrolled our area. Our team was to relieve Fort Wayne, Indiana, DMAT. They had been operating a medical emergency facility in the Government Center building for the past week. We structured our treatment area based on the incident command system. The operations function was patient treatment rather than fire fighting.

Andrew left a path of unprecedented destruction in south Florida, disrupting normal means of communication. Battery operated radios could be tuned to stations that escaped the storm’s wrath, but for most residents of the disaster are, traditional methods of receiving news, such as TV, and newspapers, were not available. Power outages cut off the electronic media in homes that otherwise were undamaged. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was faced with a real challenge in getting information to disaster victims. FEMA employed several innovative methods to disseminate information.

Outdoor advertising companies made available 20 of the surviving billboards in Dade and South Broward counties to carry the message that disaster ad was available, and to carry information on how to apply for aid. Hand held paper fans were imprinted with the same message. The primary vehicle for communication, however, was the Recovery Times, a weekly newspaper devoted exclusively to information disaster assistance applicants could us. Its format started as an 11” x 17” broadside with English on one side and Spanish or Creole on the other.

Featured news stories, describing the various disaster aid programs and their objectives, were supplemented by a question and answer column, news briefs and listings such as the location and hours of Disaster Application Centers and Red Cross service Centers. Regular publication of the Recovery Times provided a dependable method of reinforcing the messages of where and how to apply for aid, and of the types of assistance available. As a result applicants could more readily understand assistance programs and their goals.

Although the national news media identified South Florida as Miami, most of the devastation inflicted by Andrew was confided to southern Dade County. There, for all practical purposes, the planning, response, and early reconstruction of southern Dade County following the storm was coordinated by agencies within the Metropolitan Dade County government. Ironically, the hurricane occurred a few months after the Metropolitan Dade County Fire Department began a major revision of its hurricane policy and procedure.

History had dictated the focus of the response to storm damage; the storm surge and the danger of flooding in coastal and low lying areas was the traditional area of concern. The job of evacuation took priority. However, the magnitude for the storm and the large area of damage that results beyond the scope of exiting disaster response plans. Some other issues that were addressed in the Metropolitan Dade County Fire Department’s hurricane plan were: 1. The conditions under which units would or would not respond to rescue calls 2. Staffing needs and mechanisms to augment personnel 3. Alternative communication strategies 4. Mechanism to cope with live power lines and fallen trees What was not predicted, nor completely planned for, was the incomprehensible magnitude of the catastrophe and the total devastation that occurred inland in areas that traditionally had not been considered or included in most hurricane plans. In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, the inspector general of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) noted the following, according to researcher Dr. Elliot Mittler:

When Hurricane Andrew was approaching Florida and the advance element of the federal emergency response team deployed to the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee, it was evident that the state lacked sufficient space and resources to coordinate an operations to handle a disaster caused by a major hurricane like Andrew. The existing federal response relied on the state to initiate requests for federal assistance after the President declared a major disaster; however, the state was not capable of providing adequate assessments of its damage and was unprepared to make appropriate requests for assistance.

State officials acknowledge that their initial assessment of requirements for federal assistance were too low, and that at first they were resistant to the idea of a massive flood of federal resources into south Florida. Other problems noted by the inspector general included a failure on part of the state to request certain federal services because the state was reluctant to incur its 25% cost share and lack of awareness of certain services by both state and local officials.

Governor Chiles responded in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew by initiating two programs. One that strengthened intrastate preparedness and one that strengthened interstate preparedness. The intrastate initiative began on September 11, 1992, when Chiles issues executive order 92-242 to establish the “Governor’s Disaster Planning and Response Review Committee to evaluate current state and local statutes, plans and programs for natural and man made disaster, and to make recommendations to the Governor and the State Legislature. Completion of this task was on the front burner as an agenda item as Chiles expected the report delivered to him by January 15, 1993. The interstate initiative also began in September 1992 when Chiles sought help from the Southern Governors Association (SGA) when he attended its annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. The outgoing president of the SGA was South Carolina’s Governor Carroll A. Campbell Jr. who, recalling South Carolina’s needs in wake of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, had directed emergency equipment and resources from his state to Florida to assist in post Andrew cleanup.

Maintaining control at the local level is the secret to a successful recovery effort after a disaster and the key to that is to educate and train for whatever your “Big One” could be, with local control in mind. During Andrew, many things went right in Louisiana, where state and local emergency managers stayed in charge of response and recovery. Destruction of property from damaging winds and storm surge flooding of coastal areas were reported more than six hours before Hurricane Andrew officially made landfall in south central Louisiana.

Fortunately, the pre landfall preparation at local, state, and federal levels had begun in earnest 56 hours earlier, even before Andrew struck Florida. Crisis Action teams were formed at the state EOC and in high risk coastal parishes on Sunday afternoon, with Andrew still 200 miles east of Miami. The director of LOEP and adjutant general, Major General Ansel M. Stroud, briefed the Governor and his key staff on authorities and responsibilities in the Louisiana Disaster Act, the Stafford Act, and the Federal Response plan.

On Monday the Governor declared a state of emergency and, in accordance with the FEMA Region VI Supplement to the Federal Response Plan, The Advance Emergency Response came Andrew hit on Tuesday night, over 100 ERT-A responders were in the temporary disaster field office, the regional director was in the state EOC and an extensive list of potential support items, including Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATS), National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), MERS units (Mobile Emergency Response System), food, water, generators, and search and rescue teams were on standby.

The keys to the success of response and recovery efforts were teamwork, leadership, organization, and cooperation at all levels. FEMA, as the President’s representative and source of all federal assets, joined the state as a full partner providing requested support from local officials. Use of a single FEMA liaison position in the State EOC, representing the Federal Coordinating Officer, was the key to controlling and managing the massive federal response that could have overwhelmed state and local governments. Based off my findings here I see were one state was prepared and the other was not.

Florida was not prepared or ready for a major disaster and they even state that. Were Louisiana was prepared due to them planning and learning from previous disasters in other states. Why we as a country cannot get on the same picture at times I have no idea. I found just few articles that state Florida was not ready and nothing stating they had major issues or conflicts. To were Louisiana planned and trained for a hurricane since it was expected to happen at one time or another. You may fall into the trap of thinking that a hurricane is terrible, but you don’t have those were you are.

The primary difference between preparing for a hurricane and whatever your worst potential disaster is, is that with a hurricane you know it’s coming and you have two to four days to prepare. Other ant that, the problems of emergency response, multi agency coordination, operational control, logistics, donated goods, financial management, public information, mass care, security, and recovery are the same. When disaster strikes, if you haven’t already planned, trained, and exercised for whatever you have identified as your BIG ONE, it’s going too late.

Cite this page

Hurricane Andrew 1992: Consequences. (2017, Mar 23). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront