MIAMI — Learn from the past and prepare for the future is the theme of a special evening hosted by The Deering Estate Foundation featuring Max Mayfield The WPLG -TV hurricane specialist and former director of the National Hurricane Center. Mayfield will share his expertise and present dramatic slides of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.
Mayfield’s distinguished career in meteorology has earned him five Emmy Awards including two during 2011 for the station’s Hurricane Special and Hurricane History program.
AT THE HEIGHT
The Deering Estate was near ground zero for Hurricane Andrew. “We couldn’t get the main gate open because of the debris that had been pushed up to the rock wall,” said Mayfield describing his arrival to assess the damage to the property following the storm.
Once inside the grounds, the team searched for markers of the storm surge that were later measured to be 16.5 feet at the site.
“We went inside the ballroom and although there was debris on the walls, there were no marks indicating a storm surge. We realized that the strong winds had sand blasted the walls.” The group later found water-level markers inside a closet that had been protected from the strong winds.
‘NOT THE BIG ONE’
Mayfield explains that Hurricane Andrew was primarily a wind event, a small Category 5 storm that didn’t extend far from the center as did hurricanes Katrina and Hugo. Had the scope been more extensive, Andrew’s storm surge would have been worse, he said. He summed it up, “Hurricane Andrew was not the big one.”
For those who lived through the storm and for the others who have never been through a similar event, the evening provides an opportunity to be reminded of and understand the magnitude of a hurricane. “It is easier to plan for a catastrophe and then scale back as needed,” said Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate Wryly.
Organizers say the evening is designed for reflection and remembering the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, and educating the community on what to do in case of an impending storm.
“Have a plan,” says Mayfield. “The best efforts of the meteorologist aren’t enough, it comes down to people having a hurricane plan and being able to execute that plan.”
Proof of nature’s resilience is that, seeing the magnificent estate today, one would be pressed to recall the extent of the damage it suffered. Over the last 20 years the innovative environmental stewardship programs created by the estates' Educational and Interpretative staff have complimented the lush natural growth.
The goal of those nature-based programs is to raise awareness and to protect and preserve such precious resources for generations.
All proceeds from the evening benefit the Nurturing Environmental Stewards of Today and Tomorrow (N.E.S.T.T.) program, an extension of the estate’s award-winning Living Classroom/Eco-Academy, a partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools that pairs Nature-Center-to-School for hands-on learning and educational enrichment.
Photo courtesy of hurricanehistory.org