The flag is flying again over Homestead Air Force Base, which reopened Saturday for the first time since Hurricane Andrew nearly wiped it out in 1992. Only now it will be an air reserve base.
The 482nd Fighter Wing's F-16 jets returned in formation for the first time since they were evacuated before the storm tore apart the base's buildings and aircraft on Aug. 24, 1992.
The U.S. flag flaps atop a new 80-foot pole donated by local business groups so motorists whizzing past on the turnpike could see life at the base.
"They wanted people to know this base is open," said Maj. Bobby D'Angelo, spokesman for the Air Force Reserve wing.
Since its days as an active duty base are over, the base will officially be renamed Homestead Air Reserve Base this week. The former host unit, the 31st Fighter Wing, will relinquish command to the 482nd Fighter Wing.
The reserve unit will occupy just a third of the old base's acreage. The rest will be turned over to Dade County, which has plans for aviation and other business uses.
Even now, the damage inflicted by the powerful hurricane is evident. Many buildings have been restored or torn down, while others have gaping holes, and all 1,600 housing units stand empty, awaiting demolition.