Hurricane Andrew's lessons have taught officials how to be better prepared for the wild celebrations and huge influx of Cuban migrants expected if Fidel Castro's communist government falls.
Management experts told federal, state, county and city leaders at the opening of a two-day "Post-Castro Miami: The Impact on Miami of a Free Cuba" seminar the city of Miami will be ready for the fall of Castro."We had plans before but we've all just been retrained by Hurricane Andrew and that really has worked to smooth out a lot of the kinks," said Kate Hale, director of Dade County's emergency management office.
If Castro is ousted, management experts at the seminar, sponsored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, said one plan would be to designate celebration sites, such as the Orange Bowl and Tamiami Park, to avoid disruption of traffic and business.
Officials said thousands from Miami's Cuban exile community would flood the streets once news of Castro's downfall is heard.
Other plans include mobilization of police departments to cope with the traffic, sudden rallies and street celebations.
Another concern for the city would be to monitor and protect suspected or perceived pro-Castro exiles, whose safety would be threatened by vengeful mobs.
The city would have to find ways to deal with increased traffic at Miami International Airport, where many of the defecting Cuban aircraft, loaded with refugees, would land.
Experts said an emergency operations center would have to be established, similar to the one used during Hurricane Andrew.
It has been estimated the exodus of Cubans from the island nation would far surpass the more than 100,000 who came to South Florida in the Mariel boatlift of 1980.
Seminar participants said the city would need to construct additional schools to accomodate thousands of new students. A system to deliver emergency food stamps to incoming refugees would have to be established.
Airports, ports and highways would have to be expanded to deal with the movement of goods once the trade embargo against Cuba is lifted and exports to the island resume.