I’ve seen the reality of what happens after disasters like Hurricane Irma – it’s different to what you’ve been told
Because of an over-focus on empty gestures and a queasiness about money, the response to natural disasters in the US is all too often inadequate. The army and the National Guard are on standby in South Florida – but if Hurricane Andrew taught us anything, it’s that they aren’t as much use as you’d think
Irma is battering its way towards South Florida, where it will be the first category 5 hurricane to strike the state since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Aid for victims of Andrew was infamously slow to arrive and chaotically distributed when it finally turned up. Federal and state authorities waiting for Irma say that they learned their lesson from mistakes made then, and that nothing like that could happen again.
I doubt that: 10 days after Andrew, I was in Homestead, a devastated town 20 miles south of Miami, where I was warmly greeted by local people who initially thought I was an insurance adjuster or a government official come to help them. They were only a little less welcoming when I explained that I was a British journalist, since their expectations of speedy government assistance were realistically low