Approximately 250 images from the records of the Miami-Dade County Health Department during the recovery period after Hurricane Andrew

Creator: Miami- Dade County Health Department

Title: Miami- Dade County Health Department Collection

Quantity: Approximately 250 images


This collection consists of approximately 250 images from the records of the Miami-Dade County Health Department during the recovery period after Hurricane Andrew. The images in this collection depict the damage Miami-Dade County suffered from Hurricane Andrew and the remarkable efforts of MDCHD and countless other emergency responders to provide medical aid to those in need. Some images are startling depictions of the force of the storm, as seen in its aftermath. Many others offer poignant illustrations of how the storm disrupted victims' everyday lives, such as scenes of shoes washed away by flood water, or furniture and other household items left with no roofs or walls around them. Several locations have been vandalized or painted with graffiti, sometimes including messages which offer assurances and contact information for authorities and family, or warnings for would-be looters.

The collection provides numerous images of the military facilities used to establish the tent camps, and also shows locations abandoned after the tents were removed. There are photographs of the vehicles, emergency stations, and logistical operations of the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other religious and philanthropic relief groups. Images depict food, water, and other emergency supplies being distributed, along with the piles of garbage and wreckage the hurricane and relief efforts left behind.

Noticeably absent are moments of despair. Instead we see many glimpses of the hard work of emergency responders and health care workers, the hopefulness of survivors, and the incredible community and national effort put forth to meet the needs of the people of Miami-Dade County during one of their most difficult periods.

Historical Note:

The Miami-Dade County Health Department (MDCHD) has served the Miami area as a public health department since the 1940s, and serves the largest population of any of the 67 county health agencies that comprise the Florida Department of Health. Charged with promoting and protecting the health and safety of all residents and visitors to Dade County, the MDCHD provides health services to more than 2 million residents of Miami-Dade County, or 15% of the state's total population. The MDCHD must respond to natural disasters, epidemics, and other public health crises, but it must also work to ensure that health services are available to every citizen in the county.

After the small but disastrously powerful Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida on August 24, 1992, the MDCHD was called upon to assess the emergency health needs of the area and help organize the wide-scale response required to prevent further loss of life and spread of disease. Andrew left more than 180,000 people homeless and caused more than $30 billion in total damages; more than 1,000 physician practices and 59 health facilities and hospitals were destroyed or damaged. Many private and public health facilities were too damaged to serve their communities during the recovery period.

With funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Dade County Public Health Unit assessed overall health needs and the availability of health care services during the recovery phase and determined the best way to direct public health resources. The photographs included in this collection were taken during this survey between November 3 and 13, 1992. In the weeks after the hurricane, the U.S. military opened four tent cities which housed more than 3,500 people over the course of two months. MDCHD nurses, along with public health nurses from around Florida and the rest of the country, delivered care to thousands of displaced people living in tent cities. The nurses found they were ideally suited to manage the camps because of their experiences in public health.