While we were working on ideas for stories to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, WLRN Miami Herald News journalist Rick Stone found some old tapes of his reporting after the storm. He reported many radio stories after Hurricane Andrew (you can hear some of those original stories on the players below), but one in particular inspired us.
In 1992, Rick produced a story for WUSF about a hapless convoy of aid trucks that came down to South Dade to give aid to migrant workers. Rick rode along with the aid trucks, mostly made up of people and donations from churches in Central Florida. The convoy was unable to find Leisure City, where they were headed, or any migrant workers to help. The pastor in charge of the group ended up sending the aid convoy back home, disgusted that all he’d been able to do that day was take a “scenic tour.”
Meanwhile, in Goulds where things looked pretty bad, people told Rick that no one had come by to give them any food or drink in five days.
After listening to that story again, Rick Stone started researching the good intentions that went wrong in the disorganized days after Hurricane Andrew. He spoke with Rick Eyerdam, another journalist, who, soon after Andrew, compiled an extensive account of the recovery efforts for a book called When Natural Disaster Strikes: Lessons After Hurricane Andrew (the fascinating chronicle still lives online).
Eyerdam talked about firefighters who came down to South Dade and had nothing to do. They ended up living in tent cities and eating up MRE’s (“meals ready to eat” or freeze dried army ration meals) along with other displaced people. In his chronicle of the days after Hurricane Andrew, Eyerdam told the absurd story of Korean war vets who came down, “hellbent on glory.”