New Podcast: Hurricane Andrew – A “Boots on the Ground” Story

Thirty years ago this week, I was busy planning to travel as part of an insurance catastrophe response team. We were trained and ready to go, but I never expected my deployment to become an 18-month assignment to South Florida.

 I wasn’t alone. Few were truly ready for the enormity of Hurricane Andrew and the Category Five winds that caused total devastation to nearly 50,000 homes and damage to 108,000 more. The deadly storm disrupted and redirected life for so many. For my part, it forever established my passion for helping people survive and become resilient in the face of disasters by building our homes right the first time.

Please join me and John Zarrella, former CNN correspondent, as we reflect on Hurricane Andrew that struck on August 24, 1992. It’s been thirty years. What was it like on the ground? What has changed? Are we stronger today? What is the unfinished business of our movement?



Thirty years ago, Andrew roared ashore after decades of low hurricane activity leaving South Florida residents unprepared and in shock as they coped with the devastating effects. The storm killed and injured many and caused damage to thousands of homes and businesses. Hurricane Andrew revealed weaknesses in critical community functions and inspired modernization of how we prepare for and respond to disasters from nearly all aspects, including communications, emergency management, insurance, telecommunications, utility provision, weather forecasting technology, and more.

One of the most significant impacts is how it caused us to rethink how we build our homes in the face of hurricanes. Today, we emphasize better building codes with standards derived from enhanced engineering research. We strive for more consistent code enforcement. These two goals caused the genesis of our organization, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH), with the mission of strengthening homes and safeguarding families from disasters of all kinds.

Much has changed and improved in the last 30 years, especially technology and tools, but critical work remains. Enjoy this discussion with two veterans of one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history and learn how you can join us to ensure we’re ready for the inevitable storms ahead.

Topics Include:

  • John’s background in news and personal Hurricane Andrew experience as a lifelong resident of Miami (2:39)
  • Leslie’s role and Hurricane Andrew experience as part of the insurance industry catastrophe response (6:07)
  • Theater of Operations – Conditions on the Ground (7:23)
    • Reporting Challenges: difficulties delivering coverage from the field (7:47)
    • Adjusting Thousands of Insurance Claims: what’s different today (12:24)
    • Lessons Learned: emergency management system (25:45)
    • FLASH Creation: building code advocates (30:06)
    • Communication Technology: then and now, barriers and solutions (32:43)
    • Track Forecasting: the ability to know what to expect (35:24)
  • What is the “Unfinished” Business of the Disaster Safety Movement (37:25)
    • Lessons learned post-disaster (38:00)
    • Building codes (38:14)
    • Public acceptance (40:37)

I hope you enjoy this podcast episode and don’t forget to subscribe, rate, share, and provide a review on iTunes. Don’t miss these helpful resources and links too:

John Zarrella

Leslie Chapman-Henderson

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)


Homeowner’s Insurance Guide

FEMA Building Codes Strategy

Tale of Two Homes

Buyer’s Guide to Resilient Homes

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