Legacy of Hurricane Andrew lives on 25 years later

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. One of the most devastating hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. came ashore 25 years ago Thursday in Miami-Dade County.

Hurricane Andrew killed 65 people, caused $25 billion in damage, destroyed more than 25,000 homes and damaged 100,000 others.

“I’ve never seen anything with as much power as that,” said David Reed, who was there as Andrew made landfall.

Slow response from insurance companies, code enforcement problems and unscrupulous builders made it impossible for the hard-hit community of Homestead to rebound quickly.

WINK News anchor Lois Thome visited the storm’s path of destruction one year after landfall:

In response, the state of Florida created a requirement that plans for all new homes must get approval from a structural engineer.

“The ramifications were pretty broad and deep when it comes to the building codes and how we build construction here in Florida,” said Richard Durling, president of the Lee County Building Industry Association.

Building codes now require additional reinforcements to the frame, roof, and window and door openings of homes.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that they made corrections and improved the housing stock here in Florida,” Durling said.

Federal funds, grants, and a boost from insurance checks and sales tax funded a post hurricane building boom. Otis Wallace, mayor of the south Miami-Dade community of Florida City, said development plans that were 20-30 years away were suddenly expedited because of Andrew.

“The US 1 corridor was not what you see right now. We were able, with the infrastructure that we put in after the hurricane, to bring in some major venders, the Walmarts, the Home Depots, Best Buys, none of those things were in existence,” he said.

Restaurant owner Jim Accursio said it took awhile for the customers to return. However within two years he was back to 50 employees.

“I’m glad that I stayed. I’m glad that I was able to provide jobs for people. 100 percent,” he said.

Information from CBS Miami was used in this report.


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