Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21, 2012: Still Learning Lessons From Andrew

By Sylvia Gurinsky

We hope we won't be spending this Friday's 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew biting our nails over Isaac, which is now in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

But the fact that we're looking eastward symbolizes the closer attention we pay to hurricanes now.

When Andrew hit Aug. 24, 1992, South Florida had avoided a direct strike from a hurricane since Betsy in 1965. That meant that two generations had moved to the region not knowing what such storms could do.

They learned the sad lessons of poor building codes, a lousy insurance system and the lack of basic supplies to get by.

Some of those lessons - aided by the eight hurricanes that crisscrossed Florida in 2004 and 2005 - have taken root, particularly with a toughened building code and improved supply and emergency systems. Other lessons are slower: Floridians are still fighting over their insurance, and elected officials who should know better still aren't letting homeowners get the best possible coverage at the best possible price.

The best lessons that this community took from Andrew were in the support systems that sprung up after the storm. South Florida is very quick to help others affected by weather events, both in the United States and around the world.

Here's to the lessons staying put for future tropical visitors. While we hope Isaac avoids us, it's good to know we haven't forgotten Andrew.

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