Hurricane Andrew Remembered
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Echoes from Andrew
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  • Aug. 24, 1992- Hurricane Andrew plows into South Florida killing two, according to Miami Herald estimates. Another 5,000 are homeless, the region's only daily newspaper reports. Candidate President George Bush drives to Cutler Ridge promises to rebuild Air Force base at Homestead. Devastation is widespread. Homestead City Manager Alex Muxo's first message to emergency centers is at 2:05 pm. 90 percent wiped out, 20,000 to 30,000 homeless.  Won't have water until next week.  Biggest need is port-o-lets."
  • Aug. 25 - Community discovers most of Homestead and Florida City destroyed. First emergency field hospital is set up at Culter Ridge next to copter landing area where helicopters constantly kick up dirt and spew fuel and fumes. Estimates of $3 billion dollars in damage and 50,000 homeless are bandied about. Food,   water, electricity are scarce and roads are impassible. Although Bush declared South Florida a national disaster area, calls for federal help must await a formal needs assessment and specific requests, in writing, in triplicate. No one can find a government owned helicopter that works.  At 3 pm first National Guard unit arrives in Florida City.
  • Metro Dade Water and Sewer surveys its devastated system and declares a water emergency. Back up pumps and generators do not work as promised.  Florida Power and Light reckons 779,500 customers are without power in Dade and 132,000 in Broward. FPL promises to restore power to all of Palm Beach, Broward and Collier by Aug. 27.
  • Looters, friends and family, tourists and gawkers jam roads into South Dade making complete needs assessment difficult. Hundreds of residents attempt to get ice at Royal Palm Ice factories in Dade, Broward. Temperature rises to 93 degrees. They are attempting to preserve thousands of tons of frozen and refrigerated food they hope will keep them alive until power is returned, the stores reopen or help arrives with new food.
  • A woman and her three children are looting a drug store in front of security guards and reporters: "God forgive me, but my children don't have anything. My house is destroyed. I don't have money.  I'm living in my car," she says. A Red Cross truck full of medicine is hijacked and never seen again. Curfew is established to stop young people and blacks from driving into South Dade without proof they belong.  In Florida City several on-duty police officers hijack a water truck headed to Homestead and divert it to parched constituents.
  • Aug. 26 -Tons of supplies, hundreds of would-be-helpers and a host of agencies are prepared to rush into South Dade if only they had somewhere to go and a guard to protect them as they go there. Few safe buildings left standing, none solid enough to prevent looting at night and drenching during the day. No electricity and poor phone communication. People who, only days ago, would not have dreamed of covering their homes with graffiti are spray painting messages on the remains of homes, openly carrying weapons.  So many crimes are committed the police only bother with assaults, murders and armed robberies that are in progress.
  • The air reeks with dead animals, human waste and soaked fabric. The rains are a curse. President Bush sends 2,000 troops. FEMA bosses know they are desperately needed, documents show, but wait for state officials to make a formal request in writing with an itemized needs assessment.
  • Aug. 27 - Pantries empty, spoiled food and body waste melding into a sickening fog, water impossible to find, mosquitoes biting, no help in sight, rain ruining remaining property, looters slinking in the dim, repair materials maliciously overpriced; the victims and their supposed saviors get a bit testy. Little is accomplished. A new estimate: 22 dead, 63,000 destroyed homes, 175,000 homeless, and 1 million without power.  Kate Hale, drowning in failure, issues, her famous prayer: "Where the hell is the cavalry on this one. We need food, we need water, we need people."
  • Aug. 28 - Red Cross hurricane shelters are still over-filled; major problem is hundreds of elderly who were dumped by nursing homes. No one knows who they are or where the belong. Jackson Memorial and other hospitals willing to take them, are also stressed by the unexpected burden. FP & L now promises power to Broward by Aug. 31.      
  • Aug. 30 - His own home damaged, firefighter John M. Byers nevertheless sped to work helping rescue the victims and clear the way for progress. He dies when a shattered tree's limb crushes his skull.  He is the only emergency worker killed by the storm.
  • Aug. 31 - There is so much free food stacked, helter skelter in South Dade that much of it is beginning to rot in the relentless sun as the Red Cross, the Army, the National Guard, Metro Emergency officials, state emergency officials and community officials discuss who is in charge of limited resources.  A commander of a helicopter group explains, "Initially our mission was not real clear. Get to Florida and help out. We like to have a little more information than that."
  • A million rolls of toilet paper and 4,600 portable toilets are unloaded at the Port of Miami.
  • Sept. 1 - A half million people who have never lived without air conditioning or fans are still without power or toilets. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of critically needed Dade County workers have yet to come to work. Many are single parents who rely on 30 day care centers destroyed in South Dade or hundreds as yet unopened. 'Bring your children to work', the county says. Looting comes to an end. One police officer explains, "There is pretty much nothing left to loot."
  • Gov. Lawton Chiles claims 85,000 homes are damaged beyond repair. Dade County officials say the homeless number between 175,000 and 250,000 with 63,000 homes totally destroyed. Red Cross says 13,000 homes are destroyed, 28,000 have major damage. No one explains the outrageous divergence of the numbers.
  • Dave Barry begins his daily hurricane survival column after hearing Bryan Norcross through his dental fillings. President Bush promises troops, supplies, tents for 56,000, water and food, just like Desert Storm.
  • Sept 2 - USA Today reports 31 dead in Florida, 250,000 homeless, 700,000 claims totaling $7.8 billion and 480,000 without power.
  • Sept 3 - After ten days of sleeping in soaked rubble, cars and the open air, South Florida residents begin to move into tent cities.
  • Sept. 4- We Will Rebuild is assembled from the Rolodex of Alvah Chapman. (We have the members list available.)  Doctors and doctor-wanabees flood the region, dispensing pills and fixing hurts from doc in a box vans or hasty tent camps. Humana Hospital of South Broward, devoid of patients, opens as a hotel for visiting police.  1258 traffic lights are out of order.
  • Lennar stock drops more than 3 points as homebuyers sue.
  • Sept. 14 - the Miami Herald reports, "FEMA starts making order of chaos." Police begin enforcing traffic law, except the one about running red lights, which will never be enforced again.
  • Sept. 15 - Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher gives all Florida insurance companies until Oct. 15 to inform his office how well they are serving their customer�s claims from Hurricane Andrew.
  • Sept. 25 - Internal FEMA memo worries:  "We are concerned about increase in the number of people going into the tent communities and number of families going into mobile homes.... The very large amount of temporary housing checks for rental assistance and minimal home repairs are not generally being reported as evidence of housing assistance being provided by FEMA. We are looking at ways to demonstrate this to media."
  • Oct. 1. - Ambase Corp. subsidiary Home Indemnity Co., notifies Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher it will stop offering home owners insurance as of May 1, 1993. Nothing happens.
  • Oct. 9- Donations to We Will Rebuild top $18 million.
  • Oct. 15 - 481 insurance companies inform Gallagher they are doing fine paying off customers. Meanwhile, 331 companies ignore Gallagher's orders. Thirty-one companies tell Gallagher they are unable to comply. Gallagher promises to investigate.
  • Oct. 16- Gallagher implements emergency rule 4ER92-15 activating the standby Joint Underwriting Agreement to cover losses which cannot be paid by failed carriers.
  • Oct. 20 - FEMA has processed 76,000 applications for housing assistance, 40,000 have received checks, 5000 remain incomplete, 31,000 have been denied. FEMA has received 63,700 requests for money to replace valuables. 20,919 have been paid, 9,000 denied and 33,781 are still working.
  • Oct. 22 - By this date, thousands of unemployed semi-skilled construction workers have descended on South Florida. Many of them have spent hours learning to be roofers. Few have places to stay or any money.  Most walk around for a day in the rain then move into the tent cities for free day care, food, shelter and medical care.
  • Oct. 23 - Last of the four military tent cities is dismantled creating hundreds, perhaps thousands of homeless.
  • Nov. 7- Suit filed to end the 10 pm to 5 am curfew in South Dade that began Aug 25.
  • Nov. 15 - Sierra Club members brave bugs to clean up broken limbs and untidy hammocks in several Everglades swamps.
  • Nov. 15. - Landlords of low cost housing project begin receiving insurance checks; evict dozens of poor tenants so repairs can be conducted, swelling the ranks of homeless. FEMA officials say they are doing all they can.
  • Army Corps of Engineers predicts storm debris clean up will be complete by March.
  • Nov. 30. Prudential Insurance notifies its agent it plans to stop writing and renewing insurance coverage in many coastal areas of Florida. Independent Fire of Jacksonville announces it will no longer write homeowner coverage. It had written $40 million in coverage. It was faced with $172 million in claims and a loss of $40 million.
  • Dec. 1, 1992-- Florida Department of Insurance says it will study Prudential�s plan to see if it is redlining.
  • Dec. 12- FEMA, Metro-Dade and Diocese of Miami count 5,000 homeless in South Dade.
  • Dec. 15 - Dade grand jury calls for yet another overhaul of building and zoning codes
  • Jan. 8, 1993 - South Florida Hospital Association formally votes to participate in hurricane preparations and planning with county governments to eliminate chaos of health care delivery demonstrated with Andrew.
  • Jan. 24, 1993 - FEMA called a disaster. Red Cross said to be overworked as Congressional hearings begin.
  • Jan. 27 -- GAO releases report on FEMA, suggests total overhaul.
  • Jan. 29  -- We Will Rebuild announces a contest for 10 great ideas to solve the problems of Andrew. Winner will get Mac computers.
  • Jan. 30 - A federal grand jury and local authorities begin investigation of South Florida Employment Consortium to find out how many of thousands of Andrew related employees collected checks but did not work in the $20 million program??? Prudential announces it will stop selling homeowner property and casualty policies and will cut 1 of 3 existing policyholders.
  • Feb. 4 -- Florida Insurance Guarantee Fund sells $472.5 million in bonds on Wall Street to fund shortfall from bankrupt insurance companies. Estimate 20,000 policyholders left without coverage.
  • Feb. 16 -- Tent city opened in South Dade for the 5,000 who have been homeless since at least December.
  • Feb. 21 - Bob Sheets warns: This was not the big one. If the storm had hit a gnat's eyelash further north hundreds would have died. 15 deaths attributed to storm on this date. "The shelter situation is horrendous. There's no way we have enough space and there's no way to get everybody to Orlando. My advice is, don't rely on your government to take care of everything, " Sheets warns.
  • Feb. 22  - Federal Housing Admin reports it has spent $1.9 billion so far (in six months) on Andrew recovery:
  • Food, water and emergency shelter: $244 million.
  • Individual and family grants: $177 million.
  • Disaster Housing for 46,000 families:  $104 million.
  • Public assistance: $370 million.
  • Debris removal: $475 million.
  • Small business administration loans: $531 million.
  • Bus fare for jitney-bus transportation for storm victims: $46 million.
  • March 1 - Corps of Engineers predicts storm debris clean up will be complete by April.
  • March 12- House Banking Committee chairman Henry Gonzalez of Texas announces he will hold a hearing on March 19 in South Dade, "to determine why so many residents in South Dade are unable to secure safe, affordable housing despite a host of government programs purportedly there to help them."
  • April 4 - A Sunday, the Florida legislature approves $421 million in hurricane relief for South Florida, sort of.  Money comes from sales tax collections which soared after the storm in South Florida to be placed in a Trust Fund to be used to restore millions in lost revenues to local government, to help non-profit agencies continue services to repair and rebuild homes and pay back state agencies which spent their year's budget helping on Andrew.
  • Dade County: $25 million- housing
  • Homestead: $6.4 million- housing.
  • Florida City: $1.4 million- Housing.
  • U of Miami:  $9.5 million for lost patient care and lost research revenue.
  • Dade County Public Schools: $12.1 million for community education programs in 50 South Dade Schools.
  • Metrozoo: $2.5 million.
  • Cultural Agencies: $7.3 million.
  • Minority Businesses: $7.5 million.
  • HRS: $15.7 competitive grants to health and social agencies.
  • State housing finance agency: $22 million.
  • To elevate homes: $18 million (of the $25 million in Dade).
  • New Dade Prison- $25 million.
  • Reserves $42 million.
  • April 9, 1993- NBC begins filming Andrew, the Hurricane Movie staring Ted Wass of Blossom as Brian Norcross.
  • April 18 - Senator Bob Graham announces he will hold a hearing to discuss the effectiveness of FEMA. Graham explains, " Our goal is to listen to what went wrong and to determine whether it is necessary to redefine the federal role in emergency response."
  • That same day hurricane damaged Sacred Heart Catholic Church feeds 500 people from food collected in Fort Lauderdale. They come every Wednesday and Saturday. They are homeless and hungry or they have found places to rent where the rent is so high they cannot afford food.
  • May 19 - Eight months after the first company decided to quit Florida, Gallagher suggests a temporary moratorium on property and casualty policy cancellations.
  • May 26 - Thirty-two Broward schools which are designated, as hurricane shelters need shutters to protect people to be sheltered. Neither Red Cross nor school board willing to pay for them. State law says shutters must be in place by 1998.
  • May 28  - Homeowners are allowed to begin applying for part of $18 million to elevate homes. Only $10,000 per customer. Legal Services of Greater Miami files suit against FEMA claiming a systemic failure to provide adequate housing to the 93,000 people who applied for federal disaster housing assistance.
  • June 1 - Beginning of hurricane season. Dade County Commission declares Hurricane Awareness month.
  • July 1 - Deadline for hospitals and medical facilities to provide their emergency plans to Dade OEM.
  • July 7 -Dade County Commission requires builders to make identification cards for their employees so that there is some evidence construction workers have some idea what they are doing.
  • July 9 -Gallagher orders Home Indemnity Insurance to stop canceling homeowners' insurance. Home says it is not discriminating against Andrew victims since it has been dropping all Florida homeowners since the previous October.