FROM THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
With Thursday marking the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew pounding Miami-Dade County, the state’s top emergency-management official said the storm’s legacy has left Florida better prepared to handle hurricanes.
“It’s our readiness for them, both in terms of hardened infrastructure to reduce the actual impact from the storm itself and the ability to prepare for it and respond,” said Bryan Koon, director of the state Division of Emergency Management. “We are going to know the storm is coming sooner that we ever have before. Our citizens are going to be ready more than they ever have before.”
Andrew, which made landfall on Aug. 24, 1992, is the most destructive storm to ever hit the state. With sustained winds of 165 mph, Andrew, caused about $25.3 billion in damage in Florida and left 44 people dead.
New challenges since Andrew include more development and residents, many of whom have never been through a storm. Emergency-management officials say people need to take steps to prepare for storms.
“A lot of folks will say that hurricane season doesn’t really begin until football season starts,” Koon said. “We’re there now. Take advantage of the fact that there are still blue skies and it is nice out. Get ready for what could be a very active season.”
Earlier this month, Colorado State University researchers projected a 61 percent chance Florida will be hit by a hurricane this year. Typically, the average is 51 percent. The researchers also upped their projection for the season to 16 named storms, with eight reaching hurricane strength.
Two thus far
As of the Florida Courier’s press time Wednesday night, there have been eight named storms in the Atlantic this year. Two, Franklin and Gert, have developed into hurricanes.
Tropical Storm Emily at the end of July is the only one to directly impact Florida.