By SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Note: Over 400 different paper products were produced during Operation Andrew. It appears that few, if any, were saved. If you have any items printed during the Hurricane Andrew recovery operation, or photographs of PSYOP troops in action, please contact the author or webmaster.
PSYOP Soldier reads Poster on Light Pole
Psychological Operations (PSYOP) are seldom practiced within the Continental United States. The military rightfully knows that some citizens see connotations of brain washing and control in the term "PSYOP." As a result, active duty troops from Ft. Bragg and reservists from the various PSYOP and Civil Affairs units will deploy only in the case of a great disaster or emergency. Such was the case when Hurricane Andrew slammed into the east coast of Florida in August 1992.
A United States Army Southern Command document dated 1 July 1998 justifies the use of psychological operations in cases like Hurricane Andrew.
Psychological Operations (PSYOP) are prohibited by law from targeting U.S. audiences. The National Command Authority has granted exceptions for specific disaster situations, such as Hurricane Andrew. PSYOP is used for the preparation and dissemination of Command Information essential to each phase of the operation. The PSYOP product approval chain may include one or more Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials. PSYOP commanders and personnel must remind civilian agencies and populations continuously that they are only in a supporting role and solely for purposes of communication and information dissemination. At the same time, PSYOP personnel and the US Southern Command staff need to convey the special capabilities PSYOP offers FEMA and other agencies in support of disaster relief.
However, we note that because of the worry about the term PSYOP, the psychological operations task force (POTF) was called the Humanitarian Assistance Information Element and the PSYOP troops were referred to as humanitarian information support teams.
Infrared Image of Hurricane Andrew
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) preliminary report of the storm dated 10 December 1993 describes Hurricane Andrew as:
A small and ferocious Cape Verde hurricane that wrought unprecedented economic devastation along a path through the northwestern Bahamas, the southern Florida peninsula, and south-central Louisiana. Damage in the United States is estimated to be near 25 billion, making Andrew the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. The tropical cyclone struck southern Dade County, Florida, especially hard, with violent winds and storm surges characteristic of a category 4 hurricane. In Dade County alone, the forces of Andrew resulted in 15 deaths and up to one-quarter million people left temporarily homeless. An additional 25 lives were lost in Dade County from the indirect effects of Andrew.
The maximum sustained surface wind speed during landfall over Florida is estimated at about 145 mph, with gusts to about 175 mph. During the morning hour of 24 August, Andrew generated storm surge along shorelines of southern Florida. On the southeast Florida coast, peak storm surge arrived near the time of high astronomical tide. The height of the storm tide ranged from 4 to 6 ft in northern Biscayne Bay increasing to a maximum value of 16.9 ft at the Burger King International Headquarters, located on the western shoreline in the center of the bay, and decreasing to 4 to 5 ft in southern Biscayne Bay. The observed storm tide values on the Florida southwest coast ranged from 4 to 5 ft near Flamingo to 6 to 7 ft near Goodland.
Anne Newsome gave some additional facts in an article entitled "Are we Prepared?" in The Special Operations Response Team.
Hurricane Andrew was one of the most destructive storms in US history in terms of property losses with 25,000 homes destroyed and an additional 37,000 homes left uninhabitable. Overwhelmed county emergency medical services, limited access to hospital patient care, and difficulty in procuring supplies exacerbated the already complicated situation resulting from the storm.
Satellite Radar Image of Hurricane Andrew
NOAA released another report entitled "Hurricane Andrew 10 Years Later." This report updated and finalized the extent of the hurricane in cost and lives:
Hurricane Andrew was the most destructive United States hurricane of record. It blasted its way across south Florida on August 24, 1992. NOAA's National Hurricane Center had a peak gust of 164 mph, measured 130 feet above the ground, while a 177 mph gust was measured at a private home. Andrew caused 23 deaths in the United States and three more in the Bahamas. The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in south Florida. The vast majority of the damage in Florida was due to the winds.
A more recent
Army after-action report gives even higher numbers for the destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew. It states that the hurricane created 20 million cubic yards of debris that took six months to remove. It destroyed or damaged approximately 80,000 homes. It concludes that Hurricane Andrew killed 61 people and caused damages estimated at $33 billion dollars. U. S.
The U.S. Navy mentioned their part in various operations in a paper entitled Joint Task Force operations since 1983. In regard to Hurricane Andrew they add:
In Florida, military relief operations were centered in Dade County. Over 24,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and Canadian service members deployed to provide the relief. The major reliefs services provided by the military included: Electrical generators for emergency power; 100,000 emergency rations (Meals Ready To Eat); the military served an additional 900,000 meals from 50 mobile kitchen trailers; establishment of four Life Support Centers offering temporary housing, meals, medical care, childcare, and sanitation to displaced residents; survey teams that went door-to-door to assess the damage and inform residents about the available help; and removal of up to 360,000 cubic yards of debris from streets and other public facilities.
Six Navy ships and nine naval units, mostly construction battalions, took part in the operation. In addition, six Marine units took part in the rescue and rebuilding. The report continues:
The military quickly assumed a larger role than that envisioned for it in the Federal Response Plan. In the Federal Response Plan, the military is the lead agency only for urban search and rescue missions. During the response to Andrew, the military became the lead agency for a host of other missions.
Much of the refrigerated food was lifted by helicopter off the ships Sylvania and Ponce. Some 90 Army CH-47 helicopters were in the area, but they were not qualified to take off or land on board ship, so all of the ferry duties fell to the Navy CH-46 helicopters. This caused no problems, but it does highlight how service-dependent logistics operations can become.
I have always believed that Hurricane Andrew was one of the major reasons that President George Bush failed to be reelected. Nightly television news showed American citizens living among the rubble for days. The television anchors implied that the Federal Government did very little to ease their suffering. Partisan politics may have been involved, since the Democratic Governor of Florida apparently hesitated before asking for federal aid. Three days passed between Andrew's assault and the arrival of federal help. Kate Hale, the Dade County emergency director, went on live national television on 27 August with tears in her eyes and castigated the federal government. Some of her comments were:
Enough is enough. Quit playing like a bunch of kids. Where in the Hell is the cavalry? For God's sakes, where are they? We are going to have more casualties, because we are going to have more people dehydrated. People without water. People without food. Babies without formula. If we do not get more food into the south end of Dade County in a very short period of time, we are going to have more casualties!
We have a catastrophic disaster. We are essentially the walking wounded. We have appealed through the State to the Federal Government. We've had a lot of people down here for press conferences, but Dade County is on its own. Dade County is being caught in the middle of something and we are being victimized. Quit playing like a bunch of kids and get us aid! Sort out your political games afterward!
We are all about ready to drop, and the reinforcements are not getting in fast enough. We need better National Guard down here...President Bush was down here. I'd like him to follow up on the commitments he made.
At the time of the speech, three days after the storm, 250,000 Florida residents were struggling to survive without foot, water and shelter. The nationwide uproar reached Washington DC and President Bush immediately ordered 30,000 troops to the disaster area. Lieutenant General Samuel Ebbeson (a former deputy of General Schwarzkopf during the Persian Gulf War) was placed in charge of the military relief effort.
On the same day, Miami Herald staff writers Martin Merzer and Tom Fiedler wrote:
The question echoed through the debris Thursday: If we can do it for Bangladesh, for the Philippines, for the Kurds of northern Iraq, why in God's name can't we deliver basic necessities of life to the ravaged population of our own Gold Coast?
President George Bush contended that Florida Governor Lawton Chiles hadn't formally asked for help. Chiles countered that the need for a formal request seemed silly with the world watching images of 250,000 flattened homes.
Free Hurricane Andrew Emergency Map
An example of the way the nation saw the relief effort can be found in Hurricane! - The Rage of Hurricane Andrew, Patricia Lantier-Sampon, Gareth Stevens Publishing, Milwaukee, WI, 1993. Some of the author's comments are:
August 25 - President Bush had flown in for a two-hour visit, but so far there was no federal relief. Electric power lines were down, food and clean water were in short supply, and people were sleeping outside with no place to wash up and no way to begin cleanup.
On Tuesday, September 1, President Bush made a second visit to Dade County, but it was two weeks after the storm before 22,000 National Guard members finally came to southern Florida.
The photographs of President Bush depict him walking stiffly and surrounded by military personnel. Photographs of candidate Clinton show him visiting the homeless without accompaniment, hugging children, and "feeling their pain."
Whatever the reason, the result was that American citizens were depicted nightly sitting under the stars by the wrecked remains of their homes while well-fed Haitian boat people were shown living in clean military tents in the U.S. base at Guantanamo, Cuba. Since that time, every U.S. President has made a point of personally visiting and being photographed at a domestic disaster scene.
Hurricane Andrew struck South Dade County, Florida, at about 0435, 24 August 1992. Most of the residents living in the danger zone were asleep when the outer wall struck. Those that were awake heard the following message:
We interrupt this program to bring you an emergency alert from the National Broadcast Emergency Center. This is an emergency alert! I repeat. This is an emergency alert! The outer winds of hurricane Andrew have just reached the Florida coast. Hurricane Andrew has unexpectedly shifted five degrees south. I repeat. Hurricane Andrew has shifted five degrees south. Andrew is expected to strike South Dade within minutes. I repeat. Andrew is expected to strike South Dade within minutes. All South Dade residents should take immediate cover! I repeat. All South Dade residents should take immediate cover! This is an emergency alert!
The military suffered too. Homestead Air Force Base was wiped out by Hurricane Andrew. The three fighter squadrons normally stationed there were moved to bases in South Carolina and Georgia. During his reelection campaign, President Bush promised to rebuild and reopen Homestead AFB. After Bill Clinton's victory, the base was closed by Defense Secretary Les Aspin. The closing caused a total economic loss to the community of 430 million dollars a year.
Army Relief Efforts included critically needed food and supplies
Within hours after the hurricane struck, the U.S. Army and other organizations were ordered to the site to help with recovery operations. FM 100-19 Domestic Support Operations mentions some of the actions:
US military forces responded to Hurricane Andrew in Florida. Army soldiers provided relief services, prepared meals, cleared and hauled debris, produced and distributed water, restored power, and constructed life support centers. These missions provided important lessons in preparedness, leadership, organization, equipment, and safety. The 16th Field Supply Co (FSC), 240th Quartermaster Battalion, was deployed to provide support. The 16th FSC mission provided laundry, bath, and light textile renovation support to disaster victims and deployed forces. Overall, the 16th FSC processed 5000 bundles of laundry and provided showers for more than 22,000 soldiers and civilians. Army chaplains provided religious support to military personnel who were providing food, water, shelter, and medical care to civilian victims. They also talked with victims, distributed food, counseled children, picked up debris alongside other relief workers, and visited the elderly.
Loudspeaker team member broadcasts a public service anouncement
The United States Special Operations Forces Posture Statement 1993 discusses the military operation too:
PSYOP personnel printed more than 500,000 leaflets, posters, wallet-sized information cards, maps and newsletters and distributed them throughout Dade County. The PSYOP Task Force developed a local newspaper called Recovery News. PSYOP personnel published and broadcast in Spanish, Creole, and Kanjobal, a dialect spoken by Guatemalans. Information Support Teams provided further support with eight loudspeaker teams In Humvees. The teams broadcast public service announcements to people who stayed with what was left of their homes and to those whose radios and televisions had been destroyed.
19 year old Private First Class Jason Dobie who deployed with the 18th Airborne Corps Personnel Automation Group from
to Homestead AFB describes the relief efforts: Ft. Bragg
I can still remember stepping off the helicopter at
Air Force Base and being in awe of the leveled hangars. I worked in the command center and set up the military's first deployed joint task force database. We set up the database and started getting all the manifest lists in every format imaginable. They came in Mac, DOS, text attachments to emails, 5 1/4" floppies, printouts, and some commanders brought in their laptops. You name it, all from different branches and all in different formats. We would run queries against it for the command, or sometimes for the press. The image I still have from that operation is a bikini-clad girl working a hotdog stand in the middle of a demolished block of buildings and at least 30 soldiers waiting in line. Homestead
FM 90-29, Noncombat Evacuation Operations, Appendix A, "Psychological Operations" explains the makeup of the PSYOP Task Force.
The PSYOP task force (POTF) is employed on a wide range of small-scale operations (for example, Hurricane Andrew relief), and commanded by a regional PSYOP battalion commander. It consists of a task force headquarters, appropriate regional PSYOP battalion assets, elements of a PSYOP dissemination battalion, and elements of a tactical PSYOP battalion. The POTF can range in size from 20 to almost 300 personnel, depending on the mission.
In the case of Andrew, on 18 August 1992, Joint Task Force Miami began deploying forces from all services to aid disaster-relief operations. Units provided shelter, food, and water and assisted in relief operations. The commanding general, 2d Continental US Army, was the Commander of the Joint Task Force.
The success of Joint Task Force Andrew public affairs was also the shared success of the Total Army public affairs. Volunteers from U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) public affairs detachments augmented the Joint Task Force Public Affairs Office (PAO), the FEMA Joint Information Center (JIC), and the broadcasting staff of Radio Recovery. Prior to integrating the Reserve Components, the early deployment of active duty public affairs elements was key in keeping the media informed in a crisis situation while obtaining the logistical support necessary to establish the JIC.
Very little has been written about the psychological operations in support of Hurricane Andrew humanitarian relief. LTC Paul B. Kappelman and MAJ Robert E. Armstrong wrote an article entitled "PSYOP Task Force to Joint Task Force Andrew: A Case Study in PSYOP - Support to Disaster Recovery Operations," in Special Warfare, July 1993. The article was later reproduced in Perspectives, the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association, Winter 1994. Since this is one of the only two written references I have seen on the subject, I will quote liberally from the authors. They say:
Initially, the only PSYOP troops deployed were loudspeaker teams accompanying the 82nd Airborne Division. Rapidly the extent of the damage became evident and the need for additional PSYOP assets became obvious. Within less than a week, the POTF was established The Andrew Psychological Operations Task Force was unique because it included Reserve forces, at every level, from the staff to the loudspeaker teams.
PSYOP soldiers from the Product Development Center discuss the design of some of the 400 products developed to assist Hurricane Andrew Relief
The mission statement of the POTF was:
Provide coordinated information programs in support of the Joint Task Force relief operations. Supply immediate relief information through radio, loudspeaker, print and face-to-face contact. Identify key communicators and appropriate language balance to provide greatest impact. Access the adequacy of recovery communications infrastructure and effectiveness of relief information. Synchronize emerging information programs oriented at recovery operations using mass media (radio). Keep information program ahead of events to inform and prepare the population for restoration of former communication and information network.
The first priority was to immediately establish radio operations in the vicinity of Homestead City. The speed of the recovery was believed to be directly tied to the amount and the accuracy of the information. The troops were reminded that they were there to assist in the recovery, but they could not cause the recovery to happen in the same way that they could complete a tactical mission.
The concept of operation was:
Immediately establish radio operations in the vicinity of Homestead City and provide for the greatest footprint in the affected area.
Provide immediate survival information from command, public affairs office and press releases.
Provide loudspeaker teams to supplement the communication mix and provide personal, face-to-face contact.
Stress themes of survival and basic needs.
As a daily routine is formed, apply PSYOP assets so that information remains ahead of events to elevate behavior beyond survival to recovery and sustainment.
PSYOP Teams used Humvees with mounted loudspeakers
to assist relief efforts after Hurrican Andrew
Among the recommendations made by the authors for future humanitarian assistance within the United States:
A PSYOP representative should be deployed immediately to make the assessment and identify the mission requirements. A POTF can be tailored and deployed within 18-72 hours. This is better than sending in troops piecemeal. The POTF must be deployed within the first 24-36 hours. It must be deployed as a unit and should have at least one dedicated aircraft. Communication equipment must be compatible with the supported command. Having Reservists mobilize at stations other than Ft. Bragg is time consuming and presents delays. All PSYOP reservists when called to active duty should mobilize at Ft. Bragg. Use language familiar to the troops when planning such an operation. (I assume that they recommend an operation order format). Understand that civilians may be somewhat confused, but the combat operation language works well for the military.
The authors point out the Problems:
Under the government's task organization for the Andrew effort, the Joint Task Force commander reported to a civilian agency, FEMA, which in turn reported to the Secretary of Transportation. While the POTF's role was solely to provide information, its product still required approval from those within the chain. The POTF was assigned to Army forces. When product requests came from Joint Task Force or FEMA, they were not always viewed as a priority. Having the POTF below the Joint Task Force created a layered approval chain, slowing down the process and in some cases watering down the final product. The POTF should work directly for the Joint Task Force. POTF commanders should work as special staff officers in the Joint Task Force. There must be centralization. Many critiques of the Andrew effort noted the lack of a central, single authority for information release. At the outset, the POTF commander should ensure that the dissemination of information by military forces is centralized and controlled. A Joint Task Force directive should be issued stating the JTF Commander's policies and guidelines on information dissemination. With the advent of personal computers, laser printers, and graphics programs, it is all too easy for a "mini-POTF" to spring up and start printing its own leaflets. There were a couple of instances of this happening in Florida. While the efforts were well-intentioned, the products were not in support of the overall JOINT TASK FORCE mission, nor were they designed by PSYOP trained soldiers.
The second article that mentions PSYOP during the Hurricane Andrew recovery operations appears in the July 1993 issue of Special Warfare and is entitled "SOF Support to Hurricane Andrew Recovery," written by SSG Keith Butler.
361st Civil Affairs Brigade
He mentions the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade working to bring normalcy back to the community. The unit was reinforced with volunteers from around the country. One of the affected units was the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, which was stationed directly in the path of the storm. Butler adds:
The Psychological Operations Task Force, comprised of active-duty soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group, and Army Reservists from 5th PSYOP Group, plugged the hole in public-information services left by the hurricane. Telephones, radio stations, newspapers and television had been wiped away, leaving local citizens with no means of receiving the word about relief centers and aid available.
Because of the diverse blend of cultures there, the PSYOP team used its Spanish-speaking ability to get the word out to Hispanic areas. It also broadcast in Creole for Haitian communities and Kanjobal, a dialect spoken by Guatemalans.
414th Civil Affairs Battalion
CPT John Orillo of the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion is quoted:
Interaction with local authorities is the key. We started marrying up the services of the police, water authorities, sewage, engineers, Florida Power and Light and building code officials to people who needed help the most.
Mail carriers were questioned about the damage to property and who was staying to rebuild and who was leaving. They were in a unique position to know because they walked their regular routes each day. Civil affairs Units also helped with animal rescue and combining military and civilian agencies to clear the area of debris. They contacted insurance companies and brought lawyers into the area to provide free legal service to residents of the community. Members of the 20th Special Forces Group provided round-the-clock security to guard against looting.
Army PSYOP Specialists Employed Radio, Loudspeakers and Print Presses
Specialist Michael Parrish (left) and Private First Class Michael Stork ensure the POTF broadcasts are going out over the airwaves during the Hurricane Andrew relief efforts.
Army PSYOP specialists steered victims of Hurricane Andrew to relief centers throughout southern Dade County with a three-week blitz of public service information - via print products, radio and loudspeakers. The POTF comprised of active-duty soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group, and Army Reservists from the 5th PSYOP Group. They initially broadcast from a 400-watt mobile radio station. Later, they operated from a 1,000-watt transmitter. "Recovery Radio" broadcast seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The broadcast content was compiled by the Product Development Center (PDC). They wrote the scripts, and prepared printed products. SSG Butler says:
Fliers, posters, instructional wallet-sized cards, maps to relief centers and a newsletter were crafted by teams working around the clock.
PSYOP Press and Radio Operators
PDC developed all the products that were disseminated. We placed a priority on information that had to go out immediately - then decided how to get it out quickly through radio, print and loudspeakers. Posters and fliers placed throughout Dade County gave phone numbers and locations for aid agencies, including food distribution points, inoculation centers and insurance offices. In all, 400 different products were designed at the PDC, which also informed citizens about safety precautions, preventive medicine, debris clearing, schools and church functions. More than 500,000 copies of material were printed by PSYOP members. The printed public-service information was posted in camps, on telephone poles and throughout the neighborhoods across Dade County.
Loudspeaker Teams broadcasted public service messages
While PDC soldiers worked at their headquarters, eight loudspeaker teams hit the streets as a sort of electric town crier, broadcasting public-service news similar to the radio and print teams, but reaching people whose radios and television were destroyed.
The loudspeaker teams used the LSS-40, a 3-by-2-foot box like contraption which can be mounted on a soldier's back with a battery pack or mounted on a Humvee roof.
One sergeant in the 360th PSYOP Company who took part in the Operation Andrew mission reminisced about the efforts of the PSYOP units. He said:
We produced a lot of the information that the local government needed to get out to its citizens, namely general information regarding benefits that were available to the community through local, county, state and federal agencies. All the soldiers worked their butts off. There was a lot of work to do though.
Loudspeaker Humvee broadcasts public service announcements in front of Hurricane Andrew relief tent at left, near crossroads at right. Hurricane Andrew survivors sometimes called the PSYOP troops the "Town Squires."
We also broadcast tapes which were in the form of public service announcement messages. They were broadcast in English, Spanish and Creole. One message I recall vividly was a warning for people not to approach monkeys because they might be rabid. Apparently the Miami Zoo lost some monkeys during the hurricane and there were fears these monkeys were diseased. We laughed at that message. We didn't think the monkeys would get down to Florida City and no normal person would approach a disturbed monkey under any circumstance.
PSYOP troop relates emergency information and distributes printed matter to local homeowner.
Units taking part in the humanitarian relief from the 5th POG were 351st from Brooklyn, NY, (now inactivated), the 360th from Wilmington, DE, (now inactivated), the 303rd from Pittsburgh, PA, and the 312th from Washington DC. Each unit sent a Tactical PSYOP Team. The 351st members were all Spanish speakers, so we split them up and put one of their guys in with each non-Spanish speaking team. There was also a command element from 5th Psychological Operations Group.
The active duty soldiers supported the 82nd Airborne Division to the north of us. We supported the 10th Mountain Division in Florida City. I worked with and augmented the 1st Brigade of the 10th. Each day we had Briefings to update the commander on progress. A display of the city was one of the graphics which we updated daily. It showed progress; trees, trash, destroyed vehicles, and general debris removed. By the end of my stay, all parts of the city had been cleaned or had at least been contacted and aided by some unit. I believe that the military was responsible for large items and large jobs. The civilians or local agencies were left to do the rest.
We did a lot of listening to help comfort those who stayed in their homes during the hurricane. There were two instances where I personally saw people break down and cry as they relived their experience. They knew they had come close to death. We gave them as much comfort as we could, gave them useful information, and hopefully, gave them a smile and a chuckle or two.
A Bright Red Poster is placed on Pole to draw Attention
Another newspaper, the Recovery Messenger of 5 September 1992, printed in both English and Spanish, mentioned the tent cities that were being built by the military:
A relief community is springing up on the corner of
Davisand Krome Avenues in . Officially called United States Marine Corps Camp Two, the new neighborhood is known as Tent City to most This camp and another like it, which is located at Harris Field in Homestead are each capable of housing 1500 residents. Hot meals and showers are being provided. Florida City
Map depicting Food, Water and Medical Locations
The newspaper also contained numerous maps of different sections of the city showing where food, water and medical help were available.
Drydens Actual Map during Operation
Retired U.S. Army Reserve First Sergeant Charles T. Dryden told me that he was deployed for Hurricane Andrew (August to September 1992) as part of a Hurricane Relief team from the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion out of Upper Marlboro, MD (Headquarters: Washington, DC). Dryden was part of five Humanitarian Information Support Teams (HIST) attached to different elements and Areas of Operation (AOs) of the 10th Mountain Division out of
. He was billeted along with Division Headquarters at a heavy damaged Holiday Inn and was tasked out to provide aid and comfort to local migrant worker camps located out into the Everglades and as far North as Biscayne Blvd. next to the 82nd Airborne's AO. He recalls: Fort Drum, NY
We made a lot of product like leaflets, posters and tapes. Most of the handbills were forms to fill out for FEMA assistance, services for abandoned animals and recovery, shelter and aid. Some handbills were posted on boarded-up store fronts to inform survivors to be careful where to step due to all the nails in the exposed lumber and debris. We told them of the need to boil water and the risk of infection due to dirty water and that tetanus shots were being provided at several local free medical clinics. The pharmaceuticals, with short or expired dates had been donated by national drug companies. My team stopped at a Sherman-Williams paint store and the manager let us have a 5 gallon bucket of wall paper paste and some white-wash brushes on broom handles for us to apply our product on all those plywood storefronts, like supermarkets, where the population was inclined gather awaiting information. We were also able to find a woman in the
to write a handout message in Spanish on yellow office paper for those Spanish-speakers with more immediate needs. Dade County Operations Center
Situation Report (Sitrep) from then SFC Dryden
Notice the many duties that Drydens Alpha Team did on this single day. He distributed leaflets and handbills and pasted them on boarded-up windows. He then took part in broadcasts on a number of important subjects. Later he was back posting leaflets and handbills.
Some of our product was meant to control what could be placed out on the curb for cleanup and collection. We told the people what rubbish could be burned; like wood, paper, books and clothes, etc. We told them what could be recycled; like metals, bicycles, lawn furniture, beat up trash cans, window frames, tires and wheels, etc. We also identified what was garbage that would be dumped and buried in the land fill; items like spoiled food from the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, vegetation like house plants, bushes and grass clippings, etc. We later heard that
had used up their landfill area for the next 10 years and that's why the county was burning rubbish all night and inaugurated a major recycling effort. Dade County
An article entitled Humanitarian Assistance, Redleg Style, by Lieutenant Colonels James T. Palmer and Charles R. Rash in the October 1993 Field Artillery Tells the same story. The article shows the make up of the two task forces and we note that each has a PSYOP Team and a Civil Affairs team. The article discusses the actions of the 1st and 2nd Platoons of the 7th Field Artillery of the 10th Mountain Division in
. The authors say in part: Homestead
We received Special Forces psychological operations teams that gave us a much needed language capability in both Spanish and Creole The most serious concern was the abundance of rotting garbage. It was literally everywhere, strewn throughout
Southern Florida. Refrigeration was non-existent, and the lack of garbage disposal posed a severe health hazard .By the end of the third week, the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division artillery had literally sanitized more than 32 square miles of . Dade County
We also recorded tape broadcasts in English, Creole and Spanish that informed the displaced persons where the medical aid stations were located and that water points were situated at all Traffic Lights. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance points were marked with yellow helium-filled balloons. This helped the people find central places where they could fill out forms for loans, etc. The major medical stations and hospital pickup points where helicopters could land were marked with Red Balloons. The people were fed by many local churches that were able to provide hot meals and give the hungry people bags of donated food.
One of our teams joined with the Special Forces and worked with the local Seminole tribe. Another team was sent to the
relief camp where they dealt with the problems of keeping the single males away from the young females by organizing work projects like the construction of more tents, handling food supplies and daily trash collection. We didn't wear any battle gear, just a soft cap and pistol belt with two canteens. The Tent City National Guard wore full gear with weapons. Florida
We shipped our vehicles down and back, a lesson learned for
. The radios overheated and our Sergeant Washington solved the problem with a damp towel across the top. This lesson learned was valuable when the 10th Mountain Division deployed to Bosnia . Somalia
Palmer and Rash talk about food problems with rather critical civilians:
Some civilians visited the Task Force Commander and complained that the Army was taking better care of its soldiers than it was the local population. The Commander agreed. The complaints that the soldiers ate better food and had cleaner water and ice than their civilian neighbors were entirely true. A Commanders first priority in a disaster relief operation must be the security and welfare of his force. One sergeant remarked, We are kind of like the missionaries; we have to take care of ourselves if we are to administer to the civilians for a long time.
Amazingly, neither task force lost a soldier to disease or injury throughout Operation Hurricane Andrew relief
Multilith 1250 Press
Printed products are discussed by Sergeant Keith Butler in an article entitled PSYOP assets get the word out, in Briefback, fall, 1992. He mentions some of the same information in another article mentioned above. Here he goes into more detail:
A total of 400 different products were designed by psychological operations task force members, who additionally informed citizens about safety precautions, preventive medicine, debris clearing, schools and church functions. The more than 500,000 copies of materials were printed by PSYOP members on a Multilith (1250) printer and mobile Risographs. The printed, public-service information was posted at camps, on telephone poles and throughout neighborhoods across the county in black and white, and blue, red and green.
Psychological Operation Troops always want to have a newspaper for their target audience to read. Here is the Recovery Times, dated 16 September 1992.
There was also a second emergency newspaper called Recovery News. Here is the issue of 12 September 1992. My favorite story in this issue is the announcement that a group of healthy escaped monkeys is on the loose and they are tired and hungry (and probably mad as can be) and the public is warned to stay away from them.
These forms came in various languages. We depict the English and Creole version. This information was collected and collated and then used to help gather and concentrate supplies during the humanitarian effort.
This large poster (17 x 11-inches) tells the Hurricane victims the Radio Recovery station number in English, Spanish and Creole.
PSYOP Soldier Reads Radio Script
Applying for Disaster Relief
This handbill told the people of
how to go about applying for relief. The back of the handbill is identical except printed in Spanish. Because of the size of this handbill (8.5 x 14-inches) we just show the upper portion. Homestead
As always, conmen and hustlers showed up shortly after the hurricane to try and take advantage of the homeless Floridians. This handbill points out that they need not pay a roofer since the Army Corps of Engineers will do the job gratis. The back of this handbill is in Spanish.
Getting rid of garbage was one of the main healthy concerns. This handbill in English, Spanish and Creole tells the citizens how the garbage is to be separated and where it should be placed. The handbill also was printed as a small 8.5 x 3.25 leaflet on a pink paper.
Attention, Attention The Pink Leaflet Version
The handbill also was printed as a small 8.5 x 3.25 leaflet on a pink paper.
Copy of loudspeaker announcement written on notebook paper showing that it should take exactly 20 seconds.
Besides the handbills, the same messages were broadcast. Here is a copy of the announcement written on notebook paper showing that it should take exactly 20 seconds.
As I write this I am listening to the almost identical public service announcement broadcast over the radio in alternating English and Spanish language. The short message is:
Attention - Residents and Volunteers!
The removal of all separated debris, trash, garbage and metal into piles has begun.
Please place all separated debris, trash, garbage and metal in piles along the edge of the street to be removed.
Federal/State/Local Coordinating office
This form was printed in order to give the local residents all of the agencies and phone numbers that might need for any type of emergency that might come up. One side is in English, the other in Spanish. The 12 agencies include; Disaster Loans to Individuals and Businesses, Disaster Housing Assistance Program, Disaster Loans to Farmers or Ranchers, Crisis Counseling, etc. The opening paragraph is:
Disaster assistance programs are made available under Presidential disaster declarations. Detailed information on the following types of individual assistance programs is available at the various Federal-State Disaster Application Centers in the declared counties.
There were handbills that directed civilians to medical care. This handbill offers free eyeglasses to those who lost theirs in the hurricane.
One of the great tragedies in all natural disasters is that house pets suddenly find themselves alone in the wreckage with no native ability to feed themselves. This handbill is English on one side and Spanish on the other.
Electrical Safety Notice
These leaflets were prepared to help the homeowners with information about how to safely turn on or off their electricity, how to use a generator, and other needed emergency information.
Rules of Engagement
One does not think that the military might be forced to fire their weapons during a humanitarian relief operation. Yet, there can be food riots, looters, outside fringe political parties looking to make headlines or even a dispute caused by a language barrier that gets out of hand. The military needs to know exactly the rules in such engagements. Here is the Rules of Engagement (ROE) card issued to troops taking part in the operation.
Was there really a need for a ROE card? The answer would seem to be "yes." The Miami Herald of 6 September 1992 reports that members of a
armed gang had a confrontation with a patrol of the 82nd Airborne Division. The gang was armed and spoiling for a fight; the soldiers carried M-16 rifles but had been issued no ammunition. The confrontation ended peacefully after a discussion (and wouldnt you love to know what was said), but Captain Bill Mason of the 82nd was quoted as saying One of these times, somebodys going to call our bluff and somebody will get shot. There were other reports of gang members driving by and aiming their weapons to the troops or pointing them out the window at troops and saying bang! Bang! Curiously, the 6,300 South Dade County National Guard and the MPs are all armed, and it is just the federal active duty soldiers that were not because martial law was not declared and thus they had no law enforcement jurisdiction. Florida State
Specialist 4th Class Mike Rauh was a Ground Surveillance Systems Operator with the 313th Military Intelligence Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division. He also experienced the gangs of looters and their threats of bodily harm. He said:
We worked with the Police to catch looters. I was one of many troops that were repeatedly threatened by the gangs. They would drive by, point their shotguns or pistols at us and holler Bang, Bang, Mother Fuc*er! They had AK-47s, Mac 10s, and even Uzis. They were better armed than us. They knew we didn't have ammunition and loved to mess with us. I worked at night with a TAS-6 night vision camera and helped the Police catch people breaking into stores and houses. They found out about that too and put a bounty out on us. They offered $1,000 for a Paratrooper's Beret. They used little kids and people in neighborhoods to spy on us. Many of the gang members were ex-military and a few of them talked to us and tried to help us out.
He remembered some posters and leaflets during the operation:
I remember troops from
putting up posters to tell people where to get food, water, and ice. I also remember some troops handing out flyers telling people they could come to the Elementary School we shared with the Red Cross to get free immunizations, emergency food stamp applications, see a doctor or nurse, etc.. Ft. Bragg
In addition to helping people in need, I believe the Army was trying to ease tensions in the distressed areas. My unit and the Red Cross used an elementary school in the
Area. In a further attempt to ease tensions, a few of us got a bunch of Dr. Seuss & other children's books from the library and read to kids in the afternoons. Naranja Lakes
One small PSYOP printed product is the volunteer ID card. The card depicts two hands clasping over a red heart-shaped symbol. The text is VOLUNTEER. People helping people. 1992. Hurricane Andrew Relief. ID#_____." The PSYOP-printed Volunteer" cards were used to identify civilian volunteers in the Hurricane Andrew Disaster Assistance Centers.
The Department of Defense prepared an unclassified Working Paper on 31 August 2005. It listed the various actions taken by the military during the storm. Some of the items are:
1,014 USAF sorties were flown, plus the use of 120 Department of Defense helicopters.
35,000 meals a day were served for a total of 850,000 meals.
1,000,000 Meals ready to eat delivered.
80,000 tons of humanitarian supplies were moved by land and sea, another 2,000 tons by air.
67,000 civilian medical patients were treated.
1,000 tents erected.
6,000,000 cubic yards of debris collected.
30,074 Department of Defense and National Guard personnel were deployed.
There was an interesting comment in the Lessons Learned portion of the report. We know that there were numerous complaints about the slowness of the aid, and I cannot help but wonder if this is an attempt at explanation with the claim that the government might have seemed to be acting slowly but was actually working under civilian supervision. They also mention military jargon, something I constantly fight with as I change military comments loaded with acronyms into plain English for my readers:
It is almost a given that some citizens will say that the military response was too slow, because they have an idea of military capability, they need help immediately, and they may not know or care about the need for the military to be in a supporting role to civilian officials. Once arrived, soldiers carrying weapons generate confidence in many civilians, but fear in others. Its important to not just assume that all soldiers need to be carrying weapons. Its important that soldiers be encouraged to talk to local civilians this is America! But remember that civilians dont use military acronyms, so speak in plain English.
The Army prepared a Lesson Learned Report that said in part:
The Second Continental U. S. Army had responsibility for coordinating and controlling response operations in Florida until the establishment of Joint Task Force (JTF) Andrew on 28 August 1992. The Fifth U. S. Army had responsibility for operations in Louisiana. Although hard hit by Hurricane Andrew, the damage was not as catastrophic as in Florida. Because of this, the Fifth U. S. Army received few requests for support. Over 24,000 U. S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Canadian Forces deployed in the largest peacetime CONUS deployment to provided hurricane relief in Florida and Louisiana.
The Department of Defense relief effort was the largest joint and combined engineer effort ever assembled to assist in the relief, recovery and reconstitution efforts. The engineer force consisted of Army, Air Force, and Marine engineer units, the Navy Seabees, Canadian military engineers, and United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) employees and contractors. The military engineer effort grew to a peak of 3,500 military personnel, 600 USACE employees, and over 4,000 contractor personnel. Military engineers filled the void until contractors, volunteer relief organizations, and local communities could be mobilized to carry on with disaster recovery.
In 2018, I spoke with Sergeant Rick Schumacher, Product Development Detachment, 345th Tactical PSYOP Company, who told me about his difficulties in later hurricanes:
While Hurricane Katrina was flooding Louisiana, Active PSYOP assets were deployed from 9th PSYOP Battalion to do civilian communications in New Orleans, Louisiana. Apparently, there was a difficulty in getting them ramped up and working within the Incident Command System. From what I understand, when Texas Military Forces (TXNG) saw this issue, they decided to stand up an IO cell in case they had to coordinate with active PSYOP. As a former 9th Battalion guy and current Reservist with the 345th TPC out of Dallas, I was spun up to be the liaison between National Guard/State EOC and PSYOP, if needed. Otherwise, I was working to identify and access lines of communication to affected communities on the Texas coast.
When we were transitioning from Katrina to Rita, there where thousands of people without any communications; cell phones were down, FM and AM transmitters were down, pretty much everything was down. One thought I had was to develop LEAFLETS and do airborne leaflet drops into cut-off communities. I was developing messaging while concurrently trying to determine feasibility of the plan. I had developed messaging in two themes, shelter-in-place and evacuation. Shelter-in-place communications included things like don't wade in the flood waters (and dangers of doing so), how to triage injuries, and how to signal for help. Evacuation messaging included locations of fuel points, where to shelter, and what to do if you break down. All messaging included themes of safety and security. Since traditional lines of communication were so few and far between and the instructions on some of the messaging needed to be retained, I figured the best method was to print and airdrop leaflets.
In the end, getting authority from the government to drop leaflets was apparently too difficult. I was an NCO so the decision tree for implementation was way above me. However, I came up with a long term plan to quickly stand up processes for this type of communication in future catastrophic events. Unfortunately, I demobilized and don't know if anything ever came of it or if I was just yelling into the void.
26 years after Hurricane Andrew hit they are still talking about it in Florida. David Whitley wrote an article in the Orlando Sentinel of 25 August 2018 entitled Hurricane Andrew is still impacting Florida 26 years after landfall. He said in part:
Weather experts predicted the 1992 hurricane season would be fairly tame. And the first named storm didnt even gain hurricane status until August 22. That meant it got this name: Andrew. Twenty-six years later, Andrew has never really left. Its $47.8 billion worth of devastation no longer ranks it as the most costly natural disaster in American history. But it is probably the most impactful storm to ever hit the U.S.
Hurricane Andrew at Homestead General Airfield
Photo courtesy of Mark Storrs
When people began crawling out of the debris that morning, they quickly discovered the government was nowhere near prepared. Where in the hell is the cavalry on this one? They keep saying we're going to get supplies. For God's sake, where are they? That was the tearful plea of Kathleen Hale, the emergency management coordinator for Dade County. The confusion, lack of coordination and preparedness on all levels of government had all but broken her.
Almost 26,000 homes were totally destroyed, and 102,000 more were damaged. The number of homeless was 160,000, though that didnt include hundreds of monkeys, snakes, llamas, birds, cougars and other wildlife that escaped from zoos. Prices for food, batteries, generators and ice soared since there were no laws against gouging. Looters descended and property owners armed themselves to protect what was left of their homes.
Governor Lawton Chiles spoke with President George Bush right after the storm and thought federal troops were on the way. It turned out a formal request was necessary, so troops didnt arrive until four days later. The chaos was so bad that Sen. Bob Graham asked retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, fresh off commanding the Gulf War forces, to run recovery efforts. He diplomatically declined, saying he wasnt properly trained to do the job.
From a disaster management standpoint, Andrew was basically a gargantuan hard-learned lesson. Florida is much better prepared in 2018 than 1992. It better be. The population has increased from 13.6 million to 20.6 million. About 98 percent of it lives in coastal counties. The property values there are about $3.7 trillion. Nearly 3 million homes are at risk from storm surge flooding. The good news is forecasters think this hurricane season should be relatively calm. The bad news is thats what they said in 1992 .
18 foot python caught in Florida
We mention snakes being released into the wild above but they did not know the half of it at the time. Apparently during the storm a snake breeding facility was blown away by the hurricanes wind and hundreds of young Burmese pythons were let loose into the swamps. Almost 30 years have passed and those pythons have bred and spread almost to the outskirts of Miami. The pythons have no natural enemy and they are eating everything from eggs, bird, deer and occasionally the odd alligator. They have become a menace in the state of Florida and individual are now allowed to obtain licenses to hunt the snakes for a bounty. A 2012 study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that after Andrew exacerbated the Burmese python invasion of the Florida Everglades, populations of raccoons and opossums dropped roughly 99 percent and some species of rabbits and foxes effectively disappeared. Species that had long flourished here were being decimated by the aggressive newcomers. Estimates of how many Burmese pythons now inhabit the Everglades range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
The author would appreciate hearing from anyone who participated in the Hurricane Andrew recovery efforts. Readers are encouraged to write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.