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« This Wouldn't Happen In John Kerry's America | Main | Meltdown »

Deja Vu

Many forget, but one of the things (besides Ross Perot, and the bogus supermarket scanner story, and his seeming unfeeling toward those who felt that the recovering economy wasn't recovering fast enough) that resulted in George Herbert Walker Bush's loss of his second term, was the limp response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Hurricane Andrew in the summer of 1992 before the election, in southern Florida. If his son is smart, he'll have FEMA ready to aid the Gulf Coast immediately this weekend, if Charlie is even a small fraction as devastating as many are predicting.

[Update at noon Pacific Friday]

Welcome, Corner readers. It occurs to me that this is now likely to be worse than Andrew was, in terms of property damage. It's at least as strong a storm, and there's a lot more population in the current track. The Gulf Coast hasn't been hit in over forty years, and there are a lot more people living there now than in the early sixties. It's very likely to set a new record for financial losses from a natural disaster.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 12, 2004 08:27 PM
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Andrew vs. Charley, Media vs. Bush
Excerpt: Rand Simberg parallels between Hurricane Charley and 1992's Hurricane Andrew, with the potential for political mischief for Bush if the disaster response to Charley is deemed lacking. Someone responded in comments that Andrew was a Category 5 hurr...
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Tracked: August 14, 2004 10:03 AM

Frankly Gov Chiles (D) didn't help matters much either. In the end it was a political battle, or so the rumors that floated around the South at the time had it.

Posted by Derek L. at August 13, 2004 01:19 AM

My guess is that Michael Moore will find evidence of Bush plotting with Charlie, and planning this storm as part of a vast right-wing conspiracy. It can't be merely a coincidence that this hurricane is occurring right before the election.

Posted by AC at August 13, 2004 11:37 AM

Considering who is FL's governor, it had better be fast aid!

Posted by Mike Puckett at August 13, 2004 11:48 AM

Boy oh boy, AC's right. That crafty Michael Moore will be right on the case. It's those Republicans trying to blow away all those Al Gore dimpled chads. Moore is sure to see it's no accident that pro-Democrat counties have it worse.

Posted by HC at August 13, 2004 12:01 PM

Word is people in Tampa are mad that the forcast had Charley coming ashore there, so they all evacuated, and now it appears it will come ashore at Sarasota. One radio station was so innudated with people calling to complain about the "terrible forecasting" and all the money they'd "wasted" taking precautionary measures that they had to stop taking calls. Of course, this is all due to Bush's lies.

A lot of people in Tampa are leaving the shelters and going home. This could turn out badly.

For them.

Hope not.

Posted by Dan S at August 13, 2004 12:09 PM

Andrew was a category 5 storm (determined in retrospect); Charley is (at the moment) 'only' category 4. It also appears to have missed a direct hit on Tampa, thank god.

Posted by Paul Dietz at August 13, 2004 12:48 PM

I have been thinking the same thing all day; saw a history channel show the other night about Andrew and Bush's wussy response.

W better get this right, or Florida goes for Kerry bigtime.

Posted by Todd at August 13, 2004 01:04 PM

I have a lot of sympathy for Bush Senior on the Florida hurricane disaster issue. At one time, I worked for SBA Disaster Assistance, which provides low interest loans to people and business caught in a disaster and worked under the FEMA “umbrella” along with a number of other agencies. Disasters are “feast or famine” – there would be long periods with little work, then when a big disaster struck, work would be 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week. Keeping a large standing army would be extremely wasteful to handle the occasional large disaster, so only a core group was kept on between disasters, and temporary employees would be hired for the crisis. During a major disaster, the employee count would increase by 500% in a week, but still, there was a “ramp up” period as they were brought up to speed.

You can NEVER be fast enough in a real disaster. In a big disaster, there is ALWAYS a significant ramp up period. In our case, we had to verify that people were qualified for the loans – and there are more than a few attempts at cheating in any disaster. For us, news was always a no win scenario: People who thought they should be getting a loan NOW got air time. If we gave loans out without a proper investigation, there would be cheating and we would get dinged for being incompetent. And if we kept a large employee base between disasters, it would be called a waste of money.

I wasn’t involved with the Florida hurricane, but I know from other disasters that the reporting had a very specific bias, and “real world” issues were rarely mentioned.

Posted by VR at August 13, 2004 01:51 PM

I am from Chicago. Mayor Byrne only became Mayor Byrne because of a snow storm.

Posted by Bill White at August 13, 2004 02:15 PM

Paul, according to NOAA, it was Category 4 when it hit southern Florida.

The maximum sustained surface wind speed (1-min average at 10 meters [about 33 ft] elevation) during landfall over Florida is estimated at 125 kt (about 145 mph), with gusts at that elevation to at least 150 kt (about 175 mph). The sustained wind speed corresponds to a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale.

It also says that:

...a universally accepted value for Andrew's wind speed at landfall may prove elusive...
Posted by Rand Simberg at August 13, 2004 02:15 PM

My wife, who works for the NWS and is her office's "hurricane focal point" says Andrew was re-evaluated and she remembers it as a Cat 5. At the time she was working at the NES forecast office in Slidell, where Andrew made final landfall as a much weaker storm after crossing Florida and the eastern Gulf.

Now, it may be that the re-evaluation makes Andrew a 4 instead of a 5, but the impression I got from her was the other way. I'll ask her and come back.

Posted by McGehee at August 14, 2004 06:07 AM

Guess I should've called instead of e-mailing, but then I might not have this link.

Posted by McGehee at August 14, 2004 08:49 AM

Well, NOAA should update their Andrew web page, then.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 14, 2004 09:43 AM

It doesn't necessarily undermine your point though. If Andrew could fool them for 10 years, who's to say Charley couldn't?

Posted by McGehee at August 14, 2004 10:05 AM

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