Will this city hall survive Irma? Hundreds of workers and a flying squirrel hope so

1 Fort Lauderdale

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Twenty five years ago, a relentless Hurricane Andrew brought devastation to South Dade, upending thousands of lives and leaving Homestead to look like what many have called a battlefield.

As Hurricane Irma inches closer to Florida’s mainland, the fear of history repeating itself is real, with city officials hoping the storm shifts away from the town that was once was left in shambles by the Category 5 hurricane.

In 1992, the monster storm wiped away thousands of structures and even left local leaders without a place to hold order — which decades later led to the rebuilding of a $26 million city hall.

The grand Neo-Classical edifice with a domed and be-columned council chamber was designed to survive Cat 5 winds. Hundreds of municipal emergency employees and their families will be camping out in the building starting Saturday morning. Also staying in the chambers are their pets: 20 dogs, 10 cats and a flying squirrel.

“The building has never been tested before, so we’ll see how this goes,” said Homestead city manager, George Gretsas.

“It was built with Andrew in mind. Obviously the experience Homestead had 25 years ago was real and it was something that made people understand the need for keeping government intact under catastrophic circumstances,” he added.

So will the new city hall survive?

Homestead hopes so.


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