On social media, comparison satellite images like these from meteorologist Eric Holthaus are circulating as proof that Florida’s never known a storm like Hurricane Irma. Not even 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that ravaged cities in Florida south of Miami, can measure up.
After Andrew, Florida adopted a new building code so structures could withstand high winds. The state passed other laws in order to prevent Andrew-like destruction from happening in the future, which gave rise to enhanced emergency response systems on the local state and federal levels:
Laws were passed that required supermarkets, gas stations and hospitals to be equipped with generators so they could reopen quickly after a storm. Residents took outfitting their homes much more seriously. In addition to hurricane-impact windows, which are now common, many South Floridians bought hurricane shutters. Some have installed hurricane resistant roofs.
Counties invested in rescue boats and vehicles, and began training teams of emergency workers in how to deal with big storms.
These laws and changes have returned to the forefront of Florida life once again with Hurricane Irma bearing down on the state. However, now the state is better prepared with “carefully detailed protocols for evacuations, storm surges, emergency response and power losses.”
However, Hurricane Irma presents a unique problem because it’s a bigger and stronger storm than Andrew was. After Eric Holthaus posted those side-by-side images of Andrew and Irma, it didn’t take long for others to pick up on the extent of the difference in size between the storms.
As you can see, Irma is far larger than Andrew was and even with that added preparedness and extra resources, Irma might just be too big of a storm.
“There are some things that will just not allow you to defeat Mother Nature,” Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans and the president of the United States Conference of Mayors, said. “Even the cities that are the most forward leaning, if overtaken by a massive event like a Category 5 hurricane with 185 m.p.h. winds, will likely suffered significant damage.”
(Via New York Times)