Steve's cat flew through the roof and into the trees, which flew down the street into the neighbor's garage, which wasn't a garage any longer. A teacher's office building disappeared, but her desk was undisturbed. People near the ocean returned to homes and reported flooding, but insurance-claims investigators found the liquid filling the living rooms to consist of freshwater. People nowhere near the ocean found saltwater fish swimming through the remnants of sturdy concrete-block houses. A piece of paper pierced a pine tree. A yacht was parked in the middle of a busy road.
On Saturday morning a couple in North Miami called family members in Homestead and announced they'd be heading south for safer environs, only to be told that South Dade was in the midst of a full evacuation. By Monday, South Dade was a mix of rubble, ruin, and refugee camps where dazed survivors slept in tents and waited in line as military personnel handed out meals. Anyone who was in South Florida during the final weekend of August, 1992, can tell a dozen true stories beyond imagination.
Now nearly twelve years have passed with nothing approaching the devastating destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew. New people have arrived, while others have forgotten the shocking freshness of that horrible natural disaster. In fact hurricane season is well under way and it's still possible to visit a Home Depot, buy some plywood, and be home in a half-hour. Dangerous stuff. Not plywood, complacency.
The City of North Miami realizes just how dangerous it is to not expect the worst, and has assembled a remarkable team of experts and advisers for a forum on disaster preparedness to help everyone get ready for the unimaginable. The North Miami Disaster Preparedness Committee and the Community Emergency Response Team are gathering a meteorologist, an emergency-management coordinator, insurance experts, and, yes, an officer from Animal Control, among others, to inform area residents. From tree trimming to fire prevention, a number of topics will be addressed during the town hall-style meeting. After all, South Florida could be spared a major hurricane again this year. Or not.