Tag Archives: Hurricane Andrew

As Hurricane Harvey barrels down on TX, FL remembers past history

Hurricane Harvey on Friday, August 25, 2017 off the coast of Texas

Residents all along the coast of Texas are bracing for Hurricane Harvey expected to come ashore either late tonight or early Saturday morning. At 7:30 p.m. forecasters with the National Hurricane Center reported winds are sustained at 130 mph making Hurricane Harvey a category 4 storm.  Catastrophic flooding is expected due to heavy rainfall and storm surge.  The hurricane is moving to the northwest at 10 mph.

Hurricane Harvey 539 8 25 2017Because current weather patterns moving across the country will block the storm from moving north, weather specialists predict rainfall amounts could total as much as 35+ inches in areas closest to landfall and 15 to 20 inches in a widespread area of southern Texas. The system could also stick around until early next week and move along the Louisiana coast dumping more rain.  Mandatory evacuations are already in place and highways are packed with motorists fleeing inland ahead of the hurricane.

 

Boats washed ashore from Hurricane Hermine (photo credit AP)
Boats washed ashore from Hurricane Hermine (photo credit AP)

Floridians watching the reports about Hurricane Harvey headed toward Texas remember all too well the damage caused by last year’s Labor Day Hurricane Hermine  followed by Hurricane Matthew that skirted across a major section of the state’s east coast.

 

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Many beach communities are still recuperating from the beach erosion and damage caused by the storms to highways, roads, piers, homes and other infrastructure.

Twelve years ago Hurricane Wilma took a hard right-hand turn from the Yucatan and made a beeline for South Florida as a Category 3 storm with winds at 120 mph before it made landfall near Cape Romano, FL on October 24th, 2005.  Just a year before Wilma, 2004 became one for the history books as Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan wreaked their havoc on the Sunshine State.

It was also 12 years ago on August 29th when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast near Buras, Louisiana and took its toll on New Orleans and the Mississippi coastline, becoming one of the most costly storms in U.S. history.  According to NOAA, the damage estimates from Katrina reached $108 billion dollars.  The official death toll from Katrina is 1,200 making it the 3rd deadliest storm in history behind the 1900 hurricane which hit Galveston, TX leaving 8,000 dead.  The 2nd deadliest storm was the Lake Okeechobee storm in Florida in 1928  killing approximately 3,000 people.

 

galveston
Scene from the aftermath of the 1900 hurricane that struck Galveston, TX

 

For Floridians who lived in South Florida during Hurricane Andrew, the thought of any tropical system brings back painful memories.

 

Hurricane Andrew, August 1992
Hurricane Andrew, August 1992

 

 

It was on August 24th, 1992 when the catastrophic storm struck Homestead and South Florida with winds of 150 miles an hour with gusts up to 175 miles an hour.  Andrew is listed as the 4th worst hurricane to hit the United States with a damage total of more than 25-billion dollars.  Nearly four dozen people were killed.

 

In 2011 Homestead resident (and former mayor) Steve Bateman, talked with Donna Green-Townsend about living through Hurricane Andrew and how Homestead has worked toward economic recovery.  At the time of the interview, Hurricane Irene was churning in the Atlantic. (from Donna’s audio archives).

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truck carrying victims of 1928 hurricaneFlorida has experienced many devastating hurricanes through the years.  Some of the worst storms didn’t even have names.  The 1928 Category 4 storm that pushed Lake Okeechobee over its banks offically killed 3,000 people, but is believed by many to have drowned 4,000 souls.  Many were migrant workers who ended up in mass graves following the storm….some marked and some unmarked.  There are many accounts from people recalling the storm describing how they were tied to trees by their families so they wouldn’t be swept away.

The late singer songwriter Will McLean wrote his most famous song about that tragedy.  “Hold Back The Waters” has become somewhat of a Florida anthem in folk circles.  McLean was the first folk artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. See a video of the late singer-songwriter singing his famous song below:

 

 

The 1928 storm was before television and the weather channel so there was no real advance knowledge about the hurricane. It’s been written that the Seminoles living in Florida may have warned the storm was coming but people didn’t pay attention.  This storm is the reason there is now a dike all around Lake Okeechobee in South Florida. As the category 4 hurricane moved inland, the strong winds piled the water up at the south end of the lake.  Ultimately the weaker earthen levee gave way flooding an area 6 miles wide and 75 miles long.

Florida cleans up after Hurricane Matthew and experts say remember past history

Update November, 2016: Florida’s East coast experienced serious beach erosion from Hurricane Matthew and many businesses and homes suffered severe damage from the huge tidal wave associated with the hurricane.  In particular, Florida Highway A1A in Flagler County was washed out and many homes along North A1A from Vilano Beach northward have been declared uninhabitable because the sand dunes were washed away underneath the homes. Many streets in St. Augustine are filled with debris piles waiting to be removed.  Several businesses along the waterfront in downtown St. Augustine have not yet reopened as they are still under rennovation from the water that pushed through during high tide during the storm.  Below are pictures of just some of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew just north of St. Augustine on North A1A as well as on South A1A. See also pictures of the hired road crew working feverishly to fix the highway on Flagler Beach that gave way during the hurricane.  Not only is the highway up and running, but dump trucks and shovels are putting down large rocks alongside the highway to help hold the sand and roadway in place.

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Additional footage and information about the overal impact of Hurricane Matthew can be viewed on this Weather channel link.
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Original story: Friday, October 7th, 2016

214531w5_nl_smAt 5 p.m. the National Hurricane Center reports extremely dangerous Hurricane Matthew is causing devastation on Florida’s northeast coast.  Matthew is located at 30.2 N, 80.7 W.  Winds are 110 (175 km). Jacksonville reports indicated wind gusts up to 82 mph at times.  The storm is 948 mb (28.0).  Hurricane Matthew is expected to turn toward the N/NE and then NE on Saturday.  Matthew should begin to weaken in the the next 48 hours. Meanwhile Matthew is continuing to bring high winds inland and serious storm surge to beaches on Florida’s northeast coastline.

214531The National Hurricane Center reports Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward to 185 miles (295 km).  The minimum central pressure recently reported by reconnaissance aircraft was 947mb (27.97 in).  Matthew is expected to remain a hurricane until it begins to move away from the U.S.

huirFloridians and visitors can go to FloridaEvacuates.com or download the Florida-Evacuates app to enter their location and see shelters available in their area.

Damage from Hurricane Hermine (Photo Credit CNN)
Damage from Hurricane Hermine (Photo Credit CNN)

Following the most recent update from the National Hurricane Center on

Hurricane Matthew, Governor Scott has activated an additional 1,000 National Guard members. 3,500 members have now been activated.  This is over half of the available troops that may be activated.  Governor Scott has continued to activate more members to help with important life-saving operations, including evacuations and preparing for search and rescue missions.  Governor Scott is requesting President Obama to send additional federal resources to Florida, including generators and pumps, that the state can preposition to help impacted areas.

The Florida Department of Health will be updating hospital evacuation information at FLHealth.gov

TOLLS

  • Governor Scott directed DOT to suspend all tolls in the affected areas of the state, which includes the entire Florida Turnpike, Alligator Alley, Central Florida Expressway Authority and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority.

Many beach communities are being evacuated because of expected storm surge.  Governor Scott says people need to have a plan, know where evacuation centers will be located and have food and supplies to last at least 3 days including water, medicine and batteries.  Scott says gather together important documents such as insurance papers.   Make plans for how to deal with your pet in an emergency evacuation.  A complete list of disaster planning suggestions are located on the Florida Division of Emergency Management Website.

Boats washed ashore from Hurricane Hermine (photo credit AP)
Boats washed ashore from Hurricane Hermine (photo credit AP)

Even though Hurricane Hermine hit on Labor Day Weekend this year, it’s been 12 years since Florida experienced a major tropical system. That’s when Hurricane Wilma struck South Florida.  Just a year before Wilma, 2004 became one for the history books as Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan wreaked their havoc on the Sunshine State.

It was 11 years ago on August 29th when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast near Buras, Louisiana and took its toll on New Orleans and the Mississippi coastline, becoming one of the most costly storms in U.S. history.  According to NOAA, the damage estimates from Katrina reached $108 billion dollars.  The official death toll from Katrina is 1,200 making it the 3rd deadliest storm in history behind the 1900 hurricane which hit Galveston, TX leaving 8,000 dead.  The 2nd deadliest storm was the Lake Okeechobee storm in Florida in 1928  killing approximately 3,000 people.

galveston
Scene from the aftermath of the 1900 hurricane that struck Galveston, TX

For Floridians who lived in South Florida during Hurricane Andrew, the thought of any tropical system possibly heading toward the Sunshine State brings back painful memories.

Hurricane Andrew, August 1992
Hurricane Andrew, August 1992

It was on August 24th, 1992 when the catastrophic storm struck Homestead and South Florida with winds of 150 miles an hour with gusts up to 175 miles an hour.  Andrew is listed as the 4th worst hurricane to hit the United States with a damage total of more than 25-billion dollars.  Nearly four dozen people were killed.

In 2011 Homestead resident (and former mayor) Steve Bateman, talked with Donna Green-Townsend about living through Hurricane Andrew and how Homestead has worked toward economic recovery.  At the time of the interview, Hurricane Irene was churning in the Atlantic. (from Donna’s audio archives).

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truck carrying victims of 1928 hurricaneFlorida has experienced many devastating hurricanes through the years.  Some of the worst storms didn’t even have names.  The 1928 Category 4 storm that pushed Lake Okeechobee over its banks offically killed 3,000 people, but is believed by many to have drowned 4,000 souls.  Many were migrant workers who ended up in mass graves following the storm….some marked and some unmarked.  There are many accounts from people recalling the storm describing how they were tied to trees by their families so they wouldn’t be swept away.

The late singer songwriter Will McLean wrote his most famous song about that tragedy.  “Hold Back The Waters” has become somewhat of a Florida anthem in folk circles.  McLean was the first folk artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. See a video of the late singer-songwriter singing his famous song below:

The 1928 storm was before television and the weather channel so there was no real advance knowledge about the hurricane. It’s been written that the Seminoles living in Florida may have warned the storm was coming but people didn’t pay attention.  This storm is the reason there is now a dike all around Lake Okeechobee in South Florida. As the category 4 hurricane moved inland, the strong winds piled the water up at the south end of the lake.  Ultimately the weaker earthen levee gave way flooding an area 6 miles wide and 75 miles long.

 

2004_frances_satillitenearhispanilacat4_noaa
Hurricane Frances as a Category 4 storm off the coast of Hispaniola. Source: NOAA

Closer to North Central Florida residents who are watching the current track for Tropical Storm Hermine can’t help but remember the chaos wreaked on the area from Tropical Storm Frances and Jeanne in 2004.  Many residents and businesses lost power for days causing grocery stores to lose fresh and frozen food products.  ATMs were down.  Traffic lights were out.  Trees fell across many streets and homes and houses were flooded in low lying areas.

 

 

From her audio archives here’s a snippet of what the community was experiencing just after Frances moved through North Central Florida in September of 2004.

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An early report on flooding in Northwest  Gainesville after the rain from Tropical Storm Frances in 2004.

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A few weeks before Tropical Storms Frances and Jeanne came through North Central Florida, Hurricane Charley wreaked havoc on Southwest, FL, especially Charlotte County.   Many firefighters, law enforcement officers and medical personnel travelled to the area to give relief and assistance.  Here’s another audio archive story from 2004.

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Looking Back at Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Andrew, August 1992
Hurricane Andrew, August 1992

On August 24th, 1992 the catastrophic storm Hurricane Andrew struck Homestead and South Florida with winds of 150 miles an hour with gusts up to 175 miles an hour.  Andrew is listed as the 4th worst hurricane to hit the United States with a damage total of more than 25-billion dollars.  Nearly four dozen people were killed.  In 2011 Homestead resident (and former mayor) Steve Bateman, talked with Donna Green-Townsend about living through Hurricane Andrew.  At the time of the interview, Hurricane Irene was churning in the Atlantic. (from Donna’s audio archives).

(short version)

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(long version)

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Homestead Air Force Base Debate

Damage from Hurricane Andrew to Homestead Air Force Base in August of 1992
Damage from Hurricane Andrew to Homestead Air Force Base in August of 1992

 (aired nationally on August 21, 1998 on Marketplace)Original Anchor Intro:  Six years ago this month, the country’s most costly storm ever- Hurricane Andrew- put Homestead, Florida on the map.  Before the storm, Homestead was the winter vegetable capital of the U.S. Tourists may remember seeing the city marker on their way to two national parks and the Florida Keys.  But dreams to revitalize the town’s shattered economy by converting the old Air Force Base has brought about a bitter fight with environmentalists, as Donna Green-Townsend reports.

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Original script: 

Hurricane Andrew, August 1992
Hurricane Andrew, August 1992

(Krome Ave nats)  Six years ago, Hurricane Andrew decimated the city of Homestead, FL along with the nearby Homestead Air Force Base.    The after-effects of Andrew aren’t visible on downtown’s Krome Ave. anymore.  But locals say traffic is thinner because somewhere between 8 and 11,000 jobs have disappeared since the federal government decided not to rebuild the shattered air force base.   Retired Air Force Veteran Michael Richardson is also Vice President for the First National Bank of Homestead.  He says without the base, Homestead has lost 400 million dollars a year and its middle class.

“We transitioned from a community that paid with checks to a community that lives on a cash basis. What we’ve seen in the wake of the hurricane and what the community sees is we’ve lost that middle class pool of jobs and that middle class group of people that were associated with the base,” said Richardson.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.  First George Bush, and then Bill Clinton, promised to make the conversion of the old Homestead Air Force Base a national model – one that would make the new civilian-run base the engine of the town’s rebirth.

The plan was to retrofit Homestead into a commercial airport to help with overflow from Miami International.   But there’s a problem.  The airport site sits directly adjacent to two national parks –  That’s right – not just one, but two national parks.

(Nat snd of park with birds and quiet)

Everglades National Park sits about 10 miles away from the old air base.  Biscayne National Park is even closer – just 2 miles away.   And tourists say they don’t come to national parks to hear jet noise.

(Montage Of Tourists)- “The vastness and the freedom and the tranquility is something to behold.  Maybe not everybody appreciates it, but it certainly should be preserved as far as possible.”

“Seems to me the beauty of the Everglades is very subtle and the peace and the quiet is part, an important part of it.  If you have airplanes flying over I think it would really destroy a lot of the beauty.”

“I mean you got a local economy and you’ve got to keep that going but you gotta’ find a happy medium between the two.

The issue of airport noise has been around a long time, but lately, environmentalists have been making some headway when it comes to stopping jet noise near national parks.

They won a precedent-setting legal case regarding an airport near the Glen Canyon Recreation Area in Arizona.. and they’re fighting overflights at the Grand Canyon.  Homestead Mayor Steve Shiver says this plan only calls for Homestead to take some pressure off Miami’s airport, not to become south Florida’s second major hub.

“We’re not talking… in phase one development we’re not talking about another JFK,” said Shiver.

But Don Barger with the National Parks and Conservation Association – who successfully fought the Glen Canyon airport – says he doesn’t believe the developers who say they’ll only put in a one-runway operation.

“Unfortunately airports are just like landfills.  Once you get the first cell in you know where the next cell is going to go….there are proposals, there are maps out there that have shown the second runway,” said Barger.

(Nat snd of airport noise at Everglades National Park)

Homestead’s leaders point out that airport noise is nothing new in the Everglades and Biscayne National Park.   For half a century, there was the roar of planes from the air force base.   And even today, air traffic from Miami International is audible overhead.

(Nat snd of airport noise up full)

Everglades National Park Superintendent Richard Ring.

“I was in Long Pine Key campground in our amphitheater talking to 200 members of the leadership Miami we had an F-16 come in just above treetop level and it blotted everybody out for about 15 seconds,” said Ring.

But that’s exactly the point say Homestead’s civic leaders.  It’s not like the base was ever a garden spot, says Mayor Steve Shiver.

“I mean we’re talking about a facility that was actually an air force base for over 50 years.  This is not pristine land; this is not undeveloped property,” said Shiver.

But a 30-year leader in the “Save the Everglades Movement,” Joe Browder, says there’s a big difference between what people are willing to put up with for the sake of national security and what they’re willing to give up for a profit making venture.

“If we’re defending our country against real or perceived threats, then there’s a sacrifice level that everyone’s willing to consider.  If we are thinking about moving jobs and investments away from Miami, Hialeah, Opa Locka in order to subsidize some real-estate flippers in South Dade County, that’s a completely different rationale for whether there should be damage to birds, national parks or anything else,” said Browder.

The question is, aesthetics aside, does jet noise really damage the environment?

(Nat snd of airboat starting up)

Louis Wommer doesn’t think so.

(Nat snd of airboat up full)

Perhaps not surprisingly, since Wommer has been running airboat tours of the Everglades for 15 years.

‘You were just on an airboat with me which is loud to you I’m sure.  Did you notice how the birds are right there and simply just move out of the way if I’m going fast.  They go right back to the same spot…. They’re not bothered by noise, its people who are bothered by noise,” said Wommer.

But Biscayne National Park Superintendent Dick Frost wants proof.

“The military jets made tremendous noise. It’s possible that we might have had another several hundred thousand tourists visit if there hadn’t been noise.  It’s possible that we might have had a healthy breeding colony of shore birds if we hadn’t had noise.  We don’t know that because nobody ever studied it,” said Frost.

Late last year, about a dozen environmental organizations won a battle to require the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration to study development, water runoff and noise from a new airport.  The environmental impact statement is expected to take another year.   Mayor Steve Shiver says he’s tired of waiting.  A deal is a deal.

“It’s been five years, we’ve had President Bush, and also President Clinton come to this community and claim to have claim to want to make re-use of Homestead Air force Base a model reuse and nothing has happened.  That’s frustrating, that’s very frustrating,” said Shiver.

(Restaurant nat snd)

So Homestead has become a national case study Instead of a national model.   And it looks like the plans to rebuild the town’s middle class will be circling to land for a long time.  From Homestead, Florida, I’m Donna Green-Townsend for Marketplace.