While 25 years have passed since Hurricane Andrew’s devastating landfall changed South Florida forever, it seems like just yesterday that our community pulled together and proved our resiliency.
I vividly remember the collective sense of angst as the Category 5 storm churned toward Florida – the forecast track still very much uncertain. We knew it would make landfall in Florida, but we didn’t know exactly where.
Riding out the storm with my wife and two young children in Hialeah, I told our Florida Power & Light Company team in Miami-Dade County that we needed to be prepared – regardless of whether the storm moved north or hit us directly.
That said, I don’t think any of us could have imagined what would transpire during the early morning hours of Aug. 24, 1992, as Andrew maintained its westward trajectory and slammed into South Miami-Dade County.
In all, nearly 1.4 million FPL customers in five counties were impacted by the storm – half of whom lived in Miami-Dade County. For 35 days, FPL’s restoration workforce of nearly 6,000 men and women worked around the clock to rebuild the electrical infrastructure and restore service to our customers.
Using lessons learned from Andrew and other hurricanes throughout the last 25 years, FPL has significantly enhanced its hurricane and emergency response plans. In fact, since 2006, we’ve invested nearly $3 billion to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid – leveraging technology that didn’t even exist 25 years ago to speed our restoration efforts today.
Working with our community partners, including government agencies and first-responders, combined with the billions of dollars in energy grid investments we have made over the past decade, we believe we are much better prepared to respond to whatever Mother Nature throws our way.
But one thing hasn’t changed since Andrew – Miami-Dade County’s resiliency.
So many families, including many of our employees, experienced near life and death situations with their families – some forced to huddle in a bathroom with nothing more than a mattress to shield them from flying debris after the storm blew out windows and doors and lifted roofs from their homes.
As the morning sunlight revealed the storm’s destruction, our community’s dedicated first responders reported to work within just hours to start the grueling restoration and rebuilding effort. Our employees stood shoulder-to-shoulder with emergency responders and Florida National Guardsmen, leaving their families for weeks on end to serve our community when we were needed most.
Today, that commitment to respond during times of need remains as strong as ever.
While I hope we never experience a storm like that again, Hurricane Andrew proved to me what I’ve always known: Miami-Dade County is stronger united and, as one, we can overcome anything.
During Hurricane Andrew, Manny Miranda was the area manager in West Miami-Dade County and helped lead FPL’s restoration and rebuilding effort. Today, Miranda is FPL’s Senior Vice President of Power Delivery, where he is responsible for the safe delivery of electricity to FPL’s 4.9 million customers.