Many little girls and boys spend their childhood dreaming of becoming firefighters or ballerinas. I went to bed with spaghetti models twirling in my head. While a slight exaggeration, I was certainly no stranger to the perils of natural catastrophes – and there was no greater childhood awakening than the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992.
My father is an insurance veteran, having worked over 40 years in the industry. My first recollection of a school report was detailing the various hurricane categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale. I remember being so impressed at how powerful wind could be – and how proud my father was of my interest in his passion. We would indulge in satellite images and television reports discussing the anticipated track of impending storms, and I would spend hours sifting through my Encyclopedia Britannica looking at pictures and details of prior storms.
When Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida as a Category 5 storm, we were plastered to the television, watching in disbelief as the wind blew, trees fell, and people helplessly returned to what was left of their homes wondering what had just happened. I was in middle school and unaware that this was a pivotal moment in what would ultimately become my career.
Twenty-five years later, we remember this event and the implications it had on the re/insurance industry, as well as our personal stories. A new awareness of the requirements to be both financially and physically prepared spread across all parties. Taping ones windows was no longer a valid protective measure. Building codes were updated and enforced, and hurricane deductibles were introduced. Over 25,000 homes were no longer standing. Something had to change.
As for me, the images of the resultant destruction from Andrew were nothing like any I'd seen in my school reports or encyclopedic research. I couldn't believe the fragility of buildings - of our safe havens – and I wondered how a city could rebuild after experiencing such loss. My drive to learn more about helping people through prevention and restoration, coupled with my continued interest in wind speeds, brought me to follow the same career path as my father in insurance. Our industry is constantly engaged in finding solutions to help individuals, cities, and beyond become more resilient. And that's a passion that I'm proud of.
Did Hurricane Andrew have an impact on you? What's your personal story? We'd love to hear it.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Floods/storms