Homestead was recognized as a "StormReady" community Wednesday – an honor that its vice mayor says was hard-won.
“For the National Hurricane Center and the Weather Service to come down here and recognize us as a storm-ready city makes us very proud,” Vice Mayor John Burgess said.
The award came nearly 20 years after Hurricane Andrew destroyed parts of Homestead – and as Tropical Storm Isaac makes its way through the Caribbean, possibly on the way to South Florida.
To earn the honor, Homestead had to work with the National Weather Service to develop plans with local law enforcement and city offices to update and protect the community.
“As Isaac approaches us, it makes me very, very calm inside to know that the city is ready and has a plan in place as we move forward,” Burgess said.
Hurricane Andrew cut a path of destruction through Homestead 20 years ago this week. The storm, now believed to have reached Category 5 strength, was one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, inflicting some $26 billion in damage overall.
“We weren't prepared, nobody was prepared for what Andrew did to the city or to the region,” Burgess said Wednesday.
With that hard lesson learned, preparedness is now the plan for Homestead.
“People that lived through Hurricane Andrew 20 years ago know what not being ready can do to you,” the vice mayor said.