Trenise Lyons was 10 years old when Andrew headed towards her family in Broward County, FL. She recounts how she felt getting ready for Hurricane Andrew in those last 24 hours before landfall and how that lingering feeling of being unprepared helped inspire her career in disaster safety communication.
If you’ve ever been to a Baptist church, you know that, in most instances, you plan for it to take up all of your Sunday morning and early afternoon. So imagine my surprise on Sunday, August 23, 1992 when my minister ended service an hour early after only a short sermon. Apparently, there was a hurricane a-comin’ named Andrew and he knew his parishioners would need the day to prepare. While, I was just 11 years old at the time, my minister’s mention of Hurricane Andrew was my first clue that something major was going on…and I lived in Broward County!
Twenty years later, it’s unimaginable that anyone would not know days in advance that a storm of Andrew’s magnitude was headed his or her way. But there we were, on Sunday afternoon, going to the grocery store to grab enough supplies to get my family through whatever Andrew was going to bring. My mother, sister and I spent the evening getting ready at home while my father, a principal, went to make sure his school was okay and then headed back to help board up the church. I remember feeling rushed and ill-prepared, perhaps the reason I am in the business I am in today. I often wonder how better communication about the presence, possible severity of the storm and ongoing preparedness education could have impacted my family differently?
I started my career in public relations working to educate families about the risk for flooding. Responding in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma let me know that we have come a long way since Andrew but there is still room for progress. Today, I am a project manager at FLASH where I manage the Great Hurricane Blowout, a hurricane preparedness campaign designed to get families ready for hurricane season. We give families the information my family needed 20 years ago. I can only hope that through my work there is an 10 year old out there somewhere who knows that his or her family is ready for whatever this hurricane season will bring.
Monday, Bryan Norcross returns to walk us through Andrew as the storm struck South Florida in the early morning hours of August 24…