HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Today, Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie was joined by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Florida State Guard Director Chris Graham, Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez, Major General Rafael Ribas, FEMA Region IV Administrator Gracia Szczech, Major General Rafael Ribas, National Hurricane Center Acting Director Jamie Rhome, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Red Cross Regional Executive Josett Valdez in Homestead to recognize the 30-year anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s devastating landfall. Attendees highlighted lessons learned to improve preparedness, response, and recovery for future storms.
“As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, we have made great strides to improve Florida’s readiness for the next major storm,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “Governor DeSantis has made it a priority to support the resilience of Florida’s communities and the availability of recovery resources in the aftermath of a disaster. Florida is proud to be a national leader in emergency management and we will continuously strengthen our response to hurricanes and natural disasters.”
“The lessons learned in 1992 forever changed the field of emergency management and how we prepare for, and respond to, hurricanes impacting our state,” said FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie. “Thanks to the tireless work of emergency managers, first responders, and meteorologists over the last thirty years, Florida is a national leader in emergency management, and we continue to improve our field and become more resilient in the face of future hurricanes.”
“Having lived through Hurricane Andrew’s devastation with my family at the age of 15, I vividly remember the aftermath and recovery of our community and how we came together to rebuild,” said Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez. “I am pleased to see how far we have come over the last 30 years.”
“I wish I could be there with my great friends from Homestead to remember the night that changed all our lives and also, to celebrate the determination and resilience of the people of South Dade who fought a war with an incredible, off-the-charts hurricane and won,” said Fox Weather Hurricane Specialist Bryan Norcross. “Congratulations to all of you, the true heroes of Hurricane Andrew.”
Hurricane Andrew made landfall near Miami, Florida on August 24, 1992, as a powerful Category 5 storm. To date, Hurricane Andrew is the most destructive hurricane to ever hit Florida in terms of structures damaged or destroyed. With maximum sustained winds of 165mph, Hurricane Andrew is one of only four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 storm since 1900.
Hurricane Andrew marked a turning point that set the State of Florida on track to become a national leader in emergency management. Many lessons learned in the wake of Hurricane Andrew led to improvements in technology for early storm forecasting and modeling, increased coordination between local, state, federal and private sector partners to enhance response capabilities, and a larger focus on mitigation and preparedness efforts to minimize the impact of future storms impacting the state.
Emergency Support Functions (ESF) that are vital components of the State Emergency Response Team were created after Hurricane Andrew, including ESF 5 Planning and ESF 14 Public Information. These functions allow for more efficient communication between responding agencies to ensure all resource needs after a disaster are being met, including the dissemination of information necessary for Floridians to begin their recovery process.
The Homestead community was hit the hardest, and Homestead Air Reserve Base was one of several structures to be completely wiped out as a result of the storm. Today, Homestead Air Reserve Base is stronger than ever and hosts officials from Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and the Florida Air National Guard. The base has streamlined its processes for preparing for hurricanes and is able to support local, state and federal agencies during post-hurricane relief and recovery efforts.
More information on Florida’s State Emergency Response Team can be found at FloridaDisaster.org/SERT.