Will 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew pique interest in peak hurricane season?
Twenty-five years ago this week, Hurricane Andrew sent a blaring wake-up call throughout Florida that reverberated in all coastal states. The call said, loud and clear, that when you ignore the risks from Mother Nature, you lose. Florida learned just how vulnerable it was to catastrophic storms. But not all those schooled by Andrew remember the lessons.
The Tampa Bay Times lists 25 things to remember on the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. There’s the surprise regarding the storm’s strength, the death toll, the cost of the damage, and the fact that if the storm had veered toward Miami, rather than the less densely populated Homestead, deaths and damage would have been much more severe. Swiss Re said in a report on Andrew that if a similar storm hit today, economic losses would be between $80-100 billion in current US dollars; only $50-60 billion would be covered by insurance. The shortfall would be paid by taxpayers and governments.
Lessons from Andrew still resonate for insurers. For example, the case for more resilient construction was a major lesson. Today, Florida has among the strongest building codes in the nation. The need to more carefully manage risk and to spread risk globally were also well learned.
Yet, not everyone remembers what they learned 25 years ago. Memories fade. This week is a good time for a refresher – because late August is peak hurricane season. Andrew hit on August 24, 1992, in what was supposedly a “less active” season. That storm blew away any notions we held about betting on odds for weaker storm strength in a so-called off year. Now is a perfect time to look at a hurricane season checklist and be prepared for an eight-week run of increased storm activity in these peak times.