Home People People: Hurricane Andrew – Sending Aid From 1200 Miles Away

People: Hurricane Andrew – Sending Aid From 1200 Miles Away

By Mark Young, SouthFloridaReporter.com Managing Editor, Aug 25, 2015 –  When Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida, I was living in Columbus, Ohio, and working the assignment desk at WBNS-TV.  It wasn’t until the sun came up the next day that the devastation from Andrew became clear.

WBNS, is a community involved station and was quick to rally support for those in need in South Florida. Being 1200 miles away from “Ground Zero” wasn’t our coverage area, but there were people in need of help and  “Help” was something WBNS did.

It took a few days to begin getting the logistics done, but a donation center had been setup at the WBNS facility. Announcements were made to the public on what donations were needed. Everyone thought one tractor trailer should be enough.

And so it began, a long line of cars, and pick-ups, snaked out the gate and back down the streets and eventually onto the highway.

Ohio National Guard volunteers met the vehicles and unloaded donations. Another group sorted, boxed and marked everything. Pallets of water were being donated by vendors in the area. It became clear, a second tractor trailer was needed.

At WBNS, we were fortunate to have a corporate plane at our disposal, so several crews of reporters, photographers and producers were sent to Homestead. Some went in the plane, others drove in the motorcade of tractor trailers and volunteers heading south.

The biggest problem was going to be getting our supplies into the devastated area. By the time our trucks hit the road, the relief agencies were asking for money and not goods. It took time and a lot of phone calls but arrangements were finally made with the Red Cross, Military and other officials to allow the trucks in to deliver the needed supplies.

Meanwhile, I was back in Columbus trying to coordinate the crews with the location of our satellite truck. Yes, we sent our satellite truck and our helicopter.

Have you ever tried to give someone directions to a specific address from 1200 miles away?  These days with Google maps it’s a no brainer. This was 1992 and Google didn’t exist.

Street signs were obliterated as were all the homes and stores. You couldn’t say go to the convenience store and hang a left. The store was gone, as were any other identifying landmarks.

But the supplies were eventually delivered, the stories got aired and it felt good to help even if I was 1200 miles away.