The same week that South Floridians paused to recall the relentless wrath of Hurricane Andrew 23 years ago and that of Hurricane Katrina, which, in 2005, blew through Miami on its way to, most notably, New Orleans and notoriety, here we are hoping that Tropical Storm Erika does not view them as role models.
Here’s hoping that Erika, which, so far, can’t make up its mind — now stronger, now weaker — causes no further death or damage here, or to our neighbors. Unfortunately, the tropical storm already released deadly mudslides in Dominica, along with collapsed roads and flooding.
As of Thursday evening, Hispaniola was in the storm’s path. Again, a shame given Haiti’s chronic inability to bounce back quickly and effectively from such natural disasters.
In South Florida, the complacent among us have quickly awakened to the likelihood of sustaining some sort of wet and windy hit by Monday, the degree and the intensity not yet known. For residents who experienced Andrew — or Katrina, Wilma, you name it — this urgency to prepare a welcome change from their inertia right up to the day before Andrew almost literally blew us away.
Miami-Dade County is not taking any chances — and neither should residents and business owners, who should stay informed as county emergency managers provide storm warnings and updates on Friday. They should stay apprised of shelter openings and even evacuation orders. To show just how far things have progressed since Andrew, the county’s website, miamidade.gov/fire/emergency-management.asp, includes storm-surge software. Residents can input their addresses to find out if they live in an evacuation zone.
In addition, users can find a list of grocery stores and gas stations that have generators, information that will be updated if a storm hits.
It is vitally important for residents to gas up, stock up and, possibly, board up, taking seriously the threat. Of course, all this effort might turn out to be a drill should Erika fall apart.
We can only hope — and be prepared.