ATLANTA— 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.”
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.