by k.t. Frankovich
THE EMERGENCY ALERT THAT CAME TOO
The largest natural disaster ever recorded in the history of the United States was hurricane Andrew, which struck South Dade County, Florida, as midnight turned the clock into August 24, 1992. Contrary to what the American news media broadcast across the United States and throughout Europe, the first outer wall of the hurricane unexpectedly slammed into South Dade, packing 214+ mph winds which quickly escalated to 350+ mph. Most of the 414,151 residents living in the danger zone were asleep when the outer wall struck. Thousands of them lost their lives, for no one in South Dade had been evacuated or even advised to evacuate. Instead, residents had been repeatedly informed by local news media that South Dade should expect to experience "50 mph winds". By 11.00 am the following morning, 8,230 mobile homes along with 9,140 apartments had vanished off the face of the Earth. The Hiroshima-like horror was beyond catastrophic. Entire families perished in ways too horrifying to describe. The stench of death had already begun to saturate miles and miles of the massive devastation; the hot humid air was reeking with foul, rotting flesh.
A NUCLEAR INCIDENT
...One hundred million dollars worth of damage resulted from the nuclear power plant's smokestack having been cracked wide open. The plant is situated approximately 15 miles northeast of where I lived. How well I recall the leaflets circulated several months before Andrew struck, advising all residents within a "thirty-five mile radius" of Turkey Point nuclear plant to be aware of the potential hazards involved if an event such as a natural disaster or unexpected catastrophe happened. Such a grim reminder of the Chernobyl tragedy.
So what actually did take place when Andrew survivors tried to get help from those collecting dead bodies in the aftermath? Well, I for one can give a first-hand account.
About the third day into the aftermath, a long line of police cars cautiously drove into my area during the late afternoon. We had not had contact with any other people from outside the devastation up until this point. There were approximately 12 to 15 police cars comprising this caravan, each marked from different locations throughout the state. Each car was driven by a man dressed in a dark police uniform and had three other plain-clothed men riding as passengers, making a total of four men in each vehicle.
Someone from our group spotted the caravan and ran to get me, knowing that I had been badly injured and urgently needed emergency medical help. My twenty-five-year-old son and one other adult male survivor helped escort me to the caravan. We hurried towards the lead car. It stopped moving when we approached the driver's side. The officer sitting behind the wheel rolled down the window.
For a few moments he rudely ignored us, at one point giving us an impatient look of disgust.
This is the exact conversation and course of events that took place.
"Please, sir, I need medical help," I begged, barely able to speak.
The officer sitting behind the wheel sighed heavily. He turned his head away from me and gazed out his windshield. The other three men in the car quietly looked atme.
"Sir, please, I need to get to a hospital...," I begged frantically.
The officer took his time about reaching over to turn off the engine. With another sigh, he slowly opened the door and climbed out. He then proceeded to close the door and stood there with his legs spread astride.
"Lady, do me a favour," he answered. "Find yourself a piece of paper and a pencil. Write down your name and social security number next to the telephone number of your nearest living relative. Tuck the piece of paper in your pocket so tomorrow, when I find your body, I'll know who to contact."
"No! No!" I cried out. "You don't understand. I need to get to a hospital. I've been badly injured."
"No! You're the one who doesn't understand," he hissed back.
With that, he reached over to his holster and took out his gun. He grabbed me, forcing me up against the side of the car, and proceeded to put the barrel of the gun against my temple. I heard the hammer cock.
From the position he had pushed me into, I could see directly into the car. The man sitting in the front passenger seat looked away from me immediately, glancing down at the floor.
The two passengers in the back seat turned their heads quickly, staring out the window on the opposite side of the car.
My son and the other survivor watched as the officer had pulled back the hammer on the gun. So shocked out of their minds by what they were witnessing, neither one could move!
"You don't belong here!" the officer growled, pressing the barrel into the side of my head. "Now you get the hell outta here before I blow away your ass!"
He shoved my face into the car window and then released me. Someone grabbed me from behind and whirled me around so fast, I didn't have time to think! Before I knew it, I was being thrown over a shoulder. My rescuer took off running as fast as he could! I caught a brief glimpse of my son running next to me. With one gigantic leap, he and the survivor who carried me, dove behind a pile of debris. All three of us crashed on top of each other in one tangled-up heap.
"I'll shoot your damn asses!" the officer's voice rang out.
When hurricane Andrew slammed into South Dade, the State Attorney of Florida was none other than Janet Reno. Her office was located at the Dade County Court House in the City of Miami. The President of the United States was President George H.W. Bush, and the Vice-President was Dan Quayle. Bill Clinton was running for President, and Al Gore for Vice-President. Senator Bob Graham held office, and the late Lawton Chiles was Governor of Florida. His successor turned out to be Jeb Bush, still the Governor of Florida and, ironically enough, the son of former President Bush whose other son, George W. Bush, the then Governor of Texas, has since become the "self-selected" President of the United States...
Curious how the United States Government evacuated Homestead Air Force Base just before hurricane Andrew struck, yet never released the information to the civilians of South Dade.
"This is worse than anything we saw in Saudi," said Master Sgt Lester Richardson (who had spent six months in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm) one week into the aftermath. "These people need a miracle…"