Calle Ocho News would like to take the time this month to acknowledge the anniversary of an event that changed life in Florida. As we approach the anniversary of the worst hurricane that hit
South Florida, Hurricane Andrew we also had the pleasure of interviewing an icon that was with us every step of the way. Most of us that lived through the storm remember the support Bryan Norcross offered during those hours. Here are some of the questions we had for Mr. Norcross. Please take the time to read what he has to say. It could make a huge difference in the wake of another storm like Andrew. This information is very valuable because we do not think often enough about the changes that have taken place in our world and how they would affect us.
Below you will learn of advances that would indeed limit us if we had to face another storm like Andrew.
Bryan Norcross has published a book called My Hurricane Andrew Story. It can be found on Amazon or at the book signing event taking place at the History Miami Museum located
At 101 West Flagler Street Miami, FL 33130 August 24 10 a.m.-5 pm. ALL residents of the Miami-Dade County can visit the FREE exhibition.
Here is what Bryan Norcross wants to tell Miami.
1. How do you think Hurricane Andrew changed South Florida?
For the good, the loopholes in the building code were filled and the standards for all construction built in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties since the mid 1990s are now the strongest in the world. Even after a future storm as strong as Hurricane Andrew, most new buildings should be livable or usable, which will make the aftermath tremendously less painful for many people. Emergency management systems were also dramatically improved at a national, state, and local level, so the government’s ability to deal with a disaster is much improved.
On the down side, the property insurance system collapsed after Andrew and has never fully recovered. We pay tremendously more for less coverage. The flood of insurance dollars that helped many people recover fairly quickly after Andrew will not be repeated, which will extend the trauma of a future strong hurricane. Also, we have more people with more expensive property close to the coast. That means there are more people to evacuate and more property to protect. Both present daunting problems.
And perhaps the most challenging problem that will arise in a future hurricane is the evolution toward less robust communications system. Modern society is cellphone and internet dependent; both systems would likely be debilitated or rendered inoperable during a major storm. Most people don’t have a transistor radio to stay informed during and after the event, nor do they have true landline phones. The old phone system was not electricity dependent, unlike modern systems that run over the cable lines. Future mega storms will be dramatically more frightening for people that lose their connection to an information flow from the outside world.
2. Do you feel that the community has forgotten the impact hurricane Andrew had because of the lapse in major storms since then?
There are at least three groups of people to consider. New residents are often scared by the idea of a hurricane, and are well aware of the threat. They, however, often don’t have a good appreciation for the work and planning needed to properly prepare.
Many people who went through Andrew, but in North Dade or Broward (and likely went through Wilma) feel like they weathered big storms successfully, but in fact they mostly encountered Category 1 conditions. It is challenging to get those folks to fully prepare.
People who live in South Dade certainly have not forgotten. The biggest concern with these folks is the fear factor. If a strong hurricane is coming, some of these folks will feel like they have to leave, but that can be dangerous if the roads are full. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere on the turnpike is much worse than riding out the storm in a modern, well-built home.
3. What are the changes you have observed in our local weather since you became a meteorologist
When I came to Miami in 1983, the average high temperature in Miami during the warmest part of the summer was in the upper 80s. Now it’s in the 90s. It is significantly warmer due to a combination of the effects of an overall warmer climate and the increased heat due to the construction of more roads and buildings, which absorb and reradiate the heat.
4. What do you anticipate for this hurricane season?
I try not to anticipate, but instead just be ready for whatever comes along. Hurricane Andrew came late in August in an overall very slow season. So the number of storms doesn’t say anything about the impact of a season. Also, Andrew wasn’t even a hurricane until 48 hours before it hit. If another hurricane behaved exactly like Andrew it’s unlikely that we would have a lot of advance notice like we’ve become used to. Even with modern science, we still don’t have the ability to anticipate a storm going from Category 1 to Category 5 in two days, so we have to be ready for whatever might come.
5. What has been your most rewarding experience in your professional career?
I’ve felt like I was able to provide valuable information to the public during dozens of hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, and other big-storm events, but no storm compared with Hurricane Andrew. At WTVJ, we spent two and a half years making detailed preparations for a hurricane, and then, amazingly, a hellacious storm came along. We would not have been able to provide the service we did without the time, money, and energy we spent preparing. It was and is tremendously rewarding to have been part of that effort.
We at Calle Ocho News would like to thank Bryan Norcross for making himself available to us.
I hope you all found this information valuable and important I know we did