Max Mayfield, the former director of the National Hurricane Center and a hurricane specialist appearing on Channel 10 News, spoke to the members of the Cutler Bay Business Association (CBBA) during their July 10 meeting.
Mayfield began by asking how many of the people there had been through Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Most raised their hands. He then briefly discussed this year’s forecasts concerning the predicted numbers of named storms and major storms, but explained that actual storms don’t always follow the predictions.
“No matter what the seasonal forecasts, you need to be prepared,” Mayfield said.
He also pointed out that although residents normally think of the winds associated with hurricanes as being the most dangerous aspect of the storms, that really isn’t the case.
“Most people by far die from the storm surge,” he said.
Mayfield displayed a graphic showing that 49 percent of deaths usually are caused by storm surge flooding, while only 8 percent are caused by wind. He said that 27 percent of fatalities are caused by rainrelated issues, 3 percent by tornados spawned by the storms, 6 percent by surf conditions, 6 percent are offshore and “other” factors account for 1 percent. “Hurricane Andrew was not the ‘big one,’” Mayfield said.
“Hurricane Floyd in 1999 was bigger and the storm surge was worse.”
Mayfield stressed that if a mandatory evacuation order is given people need to take it seriously because the storm surge could send a 10- or 12-foot high wall of water sweeping in over coastal lowlands, drowning many in its path. He reminded everyone of the damage in New Orleans in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina.
Following his presentation, CBBA president Darryl Boyette introduced a panel of members with expertise in the field of post storm damage. Town manager Rafael Casals; Ron Gill, an independent claims adjuster, and insurance agents Ellie Mills and Danna Irias- Cooper fielded questions from the audience, as did Mayor Ed MacDougall.
Getting businesses up and running again after a storm was also discussed, and Casals said that the town center facility itself could be operational again quickly depending upon the severity of the storm. Casals said that the town recently purchased a large electrical generator that can power the building’s needed equipment and lights, and that the next goal is to replace the building’s large number of windows with wind and impact resistant glass.
The overall message from everyone was, “be prepared.”