After Hurricane Ian, a low-lying Florida city starts to rebuild. Should it?
Wet and cold. Rain falling all afternoon. The streets were eerily quiet. A cold chill crept through the walls.
On the outside, the new Hialeah, an island city built on Lake Okeechobee, appeared fine. In the spring, the sidewalks were puddled with leaves that would soon fall onto the asphalt. Along the city’s perimeter, the sidewalks were covered with dirt, and each day the dirt would be swept back into the streets and sidewalks to ensure that the city’s streets remained clean. But inside the city, the city of Hialeah, the city’s homeless began to turn the streets inside out, as they had for months before Hurricane Ian.
As Hialeah began to recover from the catastrophic hurricane, a low-lying Florida city begins to rebuild. Should it be allowed a chance to go back to normal?
The City of Hialeah, located in Florida’s panhandle, began to rebuild in earnest. But Hurricane Andrew devastated Hialeah, making it one of the poorest cities in America. Residents were forced to rebuild on the backs of tax credits and federal help. Hialeah’s rebuilding began before that disastrous event, and today, the city has more than 2,000 more residents than it did before the hurricane. But Hialeah has never rebuilt the town it was before Hurricane Andrew. That’s because Florida, like so much of America, is slowly coming to terms with its history. But the story of how Hialeah began its recovery, and how that recovery may be stalled, is now emerging.
The Hialeah City Commission was formed in late 2010, with Mayor Bobby Hill-Simmons as its president. While the city was still dealing with Hurricane Andrew, the commission appointed a task force to focus on city recovery. Among the task force’s recommendations were the formation of a Special District, a commission that would oversee city business, and a board of commissioners, similar to a city council. The commissioners include five women and three men.
The commission, while not yet seated, has begun its work,