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

New Podcast: WX Apps, Space Gadgets, and Tech Talk

Mark Taylor

With 52 million downloads, the wildly popular MyRadar app is a weather alerting leader, and this podcast with MyRadar’s Mark Taylor delivers insights for weather geeks of all kinds. From the early days of polygons and maps to the state of weather tech, Mark and guest host John Zarrella cover all the bases. Don’t miss this engaging conversation with two former national broadcast journalists who serve as FLASH board advisors and help advance the cause of disaster resilience.

Topics Include:

  • Weather Media and Technology: Passion and interest in weather—it’s no joke (0:44)
  • Weather and Space Gadgets: Marriage of technology to get the forecast right (2:26)
  • Weather Resources: Evolution of data, information, and satellites (2:47)
  • Innovation and Accomplishments: Take vision and turn it into a real product (3:10)
    • 2006: Built first interactive weather map with real-time data and hurricane tracker
    • 2010: Added precise polygon alerts and warnings using GPS and smartphones
  • FLASH: Fueled passion for resilience and willingness to volunteer with dedicated focus (5:07)
  • MyRadar: Powerful, accurate radar/weather prediction app w/over 52-million downloads (6:21)
  • Vision: Weather has an impact, add radar for tracking to make it better (7:01)
  • Mission: Provide information that matters to you where you are in a timely manner (7:36)
  • Features: Focus on more than the weather—alerts, temperatures, forecasts, and videos (8:41)
  • Educational Platform: What’s the difference between a watch and warning? (10:22)
  • Big Data: Too much information, voices, mixed messages, and trusted sources (11:46)
  • New Tech Investments: Sophisticated satellites, nowcasting, and road weather (15:53)
  • 2021 Goals: Continue to evolve the application, company, and platform (19:46)

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:


Mark Taylor on LinkedIn

Andy Green on LinkedIn

John Zarrella

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

National Hurricane Center (NHC)

No Code. No Confidence – Inspect2Protect (building code resource website for consumers)

Leslie Chapman-Henderson

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)

FLASH Videos


Just in case you missed our previous Strong Homes, Safe Families! episodes:

  1. #HurricaneStrong and the 2020 Season feat. National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham
  2. The Scoop on Hurricane Shutters feat. Tim Robinson, Managing Partner of Global Protection Products and President of the International Hurricane Protection Association
  3. Skills + Supplies Today = Safety and Survival Tomorrow feat. Sean Reilly, District Manager for Lowe’s along North and South Carolina coast-between Myrtle Beach and Morehead City
  4. #HurricaneStrong Home Hacks that Save Time and Money feat. Bill Ferimer, Lowe’s Store Manager in Wilmington, North Carolina
  5. Have an Insurance Checkup and Make Your Policy #HurricaneStrong feat. Amanda Chase, State Farm Insurance Agent in Winter Park, Florida
  6. Take Steps Today for a Smooth Hurricane Claim Process Tomorrow feat. Elizabeth Gulick, VP of Claims Operations for USAA
  7. Dr. Anne Cope on Science That Makes Us #HurricaneStrong feat. Anne Cope, Ph.D., PE, Chief Engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)
  8. Ready, Set, ShakeOut! Feat. Mark Benthien, Director of Communication, Education, and Outreach at the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)
  9. Ending the Season #HurricaneStrong, a Conversation with Dr. Rick Knabb, On-Air Hurricane Expert and Tropical Program Manager for The Weather Channel
  10. Building Codes Save Study with FEMA’s Ed Laatsch, Director – Safety, Planning, and Building Science Division of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA), Risk Management Directorate – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  11. Top Ten Tips for Disaster Safety in 2021 feat. Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President and CEO, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)
  12. FEMA’s Amanda Siok on How Building Codes and Planning Can Create a Resilient Alaska, feat. Amanda Siok, Earthquake, Tsunami, and Volcano Program Manager for FEMA Region X in Seattle

New Podcast: NHC Director Ken Graham – Getting #HurricaneStrong Ahead of the 2020 Season

Ken Graham
Ken Graham, Director – National Hurricane Center

Are you prepared to protect your family and home before hurricane season hits? Will you be able to bounce back swiftly? My guest this week on Strong Homes, Safe Families! is Ken Graham from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, and he shares plenty of insights about how to stay safe.

Ken and I talk about the science, public policy, and practice of being better prepared for hurricanes, including a discussion of COVID-19. Please click here to listen to this week’s episode.

Topics Include:

  • Rising Water Evacuation: Why and when Ken decided to become a meteorologist
  • Disaster Resilience: Bouncing back to recover quickly from a hurricane is possible
  • Science: Meteorological breakthrough with track forecast and ability to narrow errors
  • Public Policy: Best practices to be resilient by knowing when and where to evacuate
  • Practice: Risk communication, perception, decision-making, and other human factors
  • Tech Tools: People flee storms, but hurricane hunters use technology to collect data
  • Preparation: Positive impact due to COVID-19 pandemic

“Little wiggles in the forecast matter. Everyone listening needs to understand that a 20- or 40-mile wiggle can make the difference to someone on the ground experiencing a foot of storm surge or maybe ten of feet storm surge.” – Ken Graham

LCH and Ken Graham

National Weather Service New Orleans/Baton Rouge team members, Ken Graham, and Leslie Chapman-Henderson strike the #HurricaneStrong “Pose”