NHC explained it was poorly organized moving NW.
We all know what happened.
It turned. The cold front evaporated.
The high set in.
It turned West.
Slammed into the Miami Dade area…
Bullseye on Homestead.
Damage all across South Florida.
That weekend, as obsssed as I normally am with hurricanes, my father-in-law was in town from California and it was always a stressful time when he came in. My mother-in-law had sadly passed away,and Dad was not always easy to deal with as he didn’t like the fact that his son, his only child, decided to be more observant in religious practice, he hated Miami humidity and wanted to get back to dry, comfortable LA that weekend. Tension was in the air and I’m not talking just about the pooly organized tropical storm in the Atlantic that seemed to be going towards North Florida or somwhere else further up the coast.
My best friend Sharon, who died last year, called me at 6 PM and said “put on Bryan” meaning Norcross and she said it as an order not a suggestion. I had seen Don Noe at 5 as it came on after General Hospital and while I preferred Bryan Norcross … Don Noe insisted it wasn’t a threat and it was headed away but suggested we should check back after the weekend is over to see where it was ……. my kids were screaming, I had to cook Shabbos dinner for my father-in-law who would be friendly to me and a few of the kids, but not very warm or friendly sadly to his only child my ex-husband. I put on BRYAN. Note Sharon called BRYAN before Andrew, after Andrew everyone in Miami called Bryan Norcross by his first name as if he was a family member but Sharon always called him Bryan. And he talked on the small chance that the storm (a poorly organized Tropical Storm NOT a Hurricane) might not catch the front and that it was imporant to know there was a chance it took the 3rd possible path that he showed in the images shown up above and to watch it carefully.
Sharon, more a sister to me than a friend, had been sure a hurricane was coming as it had been a beastly hot summer, no rain, dry, hot as blazes (similar to this year) and she was sure we were getting a hurricane. She had saved 72 empty Publix Water bottles filled with water, she let some guy who knocked on her door with a crazy cheap price to cut down the huge tree that would bang up against her plate glass picture window in the front of the house. She tracked, she watched, she didn’t trust the NHC (there’s always that one relative right) and she trusted Bryan.
There I was a house filled with kids, my out of town guest who had become a somewhat difficult guest sadly and I was more worried about being able to buy school supplies for my kids than Andrew. Everyone except Bryan said not to worry on Andrew, I always worried but had priorities. I had basic supplies, again I’m a 4th generation Floridian who takes Hurricanes very seriously and going into the Jewish Sabbath when we have the TV off I wondered what we’d find out after it was over at sundown on Saturday. At some point late on Saturday Afternoon I walked around the corner to my friend Sarah’s house and had a cup of coffee and a small piece of chocolate rugelah and she tried to give me a pep talk about my father-in-law’s trip, the oncoming school year and I well stayed late. I stayed so late that the sun was already setting and it was time to go home and check on my kids and of course Andrew.
If u zoom in u can see hotels above the blue car.
This was the street where I knew something changed.
I knew, inside immediate.
Andrew was on the way.
I lived on Miami Beach about 4 blocks and 1 canal away from the Atlantic Ocean in a very nice residential area. When I came out of Sarah’s house and turned left (towards the ocean) this steady, constant wind hit me in the face that I swear was not there when I walked over to Sarah’s house a few hours earlier. It felt like someone turned a fan on High, not gusty but steady. If you look at the picture above it’s a straight shot to the Ocean and the wind ripped through that street, except it was dark and the stars were out. I turned left onto my street and actually began running the rest of the way, ran in the house and yelled “Put on THE WEATHER CHANNEL” and the kids did.
Of course, Bryan was right.
The 3rd solution.
Throughout the night it intensified.
Sharon’s never gonna let me forget this I thought.
By the time we got to the store most of the stuff was going fast. We parked two of the kids in the long line that wrapped around the aisles in the store to save our place and began shopping as if we were on a show given 3 minutes to get free anything we put in our carts. Non perishables “just buy the tuna I don’t care if you don’t like that one” and diapers were impossible to find, though we went to a local Walgreens the tourists didn’t think to go to for those extra items. My father-in-law changed his flight for the next filght out of town (turns out he flew First Class, that’s an option apparently) though he did help us pay for some of the groceries we bought, I’ll give credit where credit is due. I do though remember some little child who woke up on Sunday morning when Andrew was offshore (see image above) walked down the stairs and said half asleep “where did Grandpa go?” and we told him he went home, and we were having a new visitor named Hurricane Andrew.
We tried boarding up the house that had been through the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane but it wasn’t easy. There wasn’t much wood to be found, no we didn’t have shutters but hey we did have school supplies! We watched many people leave, we took the kids upstairs and hunkered down in a well protected interior hallway with no windows covered with blankets and pillows and settled down listening to Bryan on the radio talk us through the storm. We had batteries for the portable TV but we saved them as much as possible for after the storm. Bryan interviwed the NHC Director who said they weren’t sure where the eye was as the Hurricane Center radar blew off the roof and they are trying to get info from the WPB radar. “OH………” was my thought immediately followed by “Huh?” as I knew that radar down on South Dixie Highway and well it was a real “oh” moment. It soon became apparent from callers calling in talking to Bryan that South Dade was getting the worst of the storm.
My ex-husband born in California stood by the one window not boarded up staring out facing West mesmerized by the “purple lighting” nonstop. It was transformers popping one after another after another as Miami across the bay slowly went dark. I asked him to come back in the hallway (huge hallways honestly) and in a little while our electric went out. The wind howled, it was wild, and at the height of the storm I could occaisionally hear the surf pounding the ocean about four or five blocks away. The ocean I had gone to just before dark with my friend Sharon and my 5 year old daughter where we watched the waves out ahead of Andrew pounding the beach, sea foam blowing and the air felt wild and wonderful; both of us loved wicked weather and often chased thunderstoms often when we had the time. I lay there in the hallway listening to Bryan worrying about the bag lady on South Beach that my husband and I had seen wandering down Washington Avenue headed towards a gas station where she slept often and I worried if she’d be alive in the morning; as beautiful as Miami Beach was it has it’s “Bag Lady” types and the “Cat Lady” down the block who bought hundreds of dollars of cat food before the storm to feed all the stray cats in the area. It had tourists stuck in hotels rooms and tourists who went to shelters. Yes, we took one long drive around Miami Beach to take one last look as we weren’t sure what would be left to see in the morning. And, as we sat there huddled in the hallway we had no idea what was going on downstairs on our block and if the streets were flooded and if they were flooded how high the water might be. It was a long night memorable night and at some point fell asleep briefly.
Eventually we woke up, and ventured downstairs and it was bone dry. The house survived, a few boards that we used to board up flew off the house denting the car. There was debris everywhere but relatively minor debris compared to Homestead where my future daughter-in-law spent the night in the bathtub with her mother with a mattress over their head with her tall strong father sitting against the bathroom door stopping it from opening up. My friend’s house in Kendall that we had debated going to for Andrew seemed safely inland, far from the water was severely damaged and my friend’s wife spent the night in the closet with her 6 month old baby girl while my friend sat against the door trying to keep them safe. I get that I spent the night hovered near and over my 9 month old baby girl hoping to protect her if anything happened just in case.
Huge trees were down everywhere, some moderate damage to some homes while others were fine but covered in debris from leaves and signs a block or two away on 41st Street. A house a block away on Miami Beach lost it’s fancy A frame roof and it blew into a neighbors pool. Honest. Shattered Neon signs from Arthur Godfrey Road litered my mother’s front yard a block away from my house. Lights were out, cable was gone, the telephone was mostly out and electric was off. Water was not usable, but hey we had used Publix Soda bottles filled with water and all the supplies I had been squirreling away for weeks during the hot, horrible summer of 1992 because Sharon insisted we were having a hurricane!
Nothing was normal for months. We didn’t get electric back for a long time, we moved into Sarah’s cottage that had electric from a generator and waited for FPL to show up and hook us back up. To be honest I walked “home” with my younger daughter and sat enjoying being “home” a bit when FPL drove up and as they did I have to tell you people came out of the homes and cheered, thanking them profusely.
1. I was fairly prepared as I take hurricanes seriously when they come to my neighborhood.
2. We had First Aid Supplies.
3. We had food.
4. We had lots of crayons.
5. We were grateful knowing it could have been much worse and was for many people.
Eventually life went on… in October after Andrew we got “cable” up again as the whole grid went down on Miami Beach where huge ficus trees took down all electric, cable and telephone lines. Many got tee shirts showing off how they survived Andrew the most popular one shown below.
Was what it was …………….part and parcel of living in paradise, seriously if you move to Miami know hurricanes can and will happen and……………unlike the Maui Fire and unlike the Turkey Earthquake you have early warnings and so much information you can go crazy from information overload. So it’s the one natural disaster you have time to prepare for or get out of town.
If you are near the cone or in the cone pay attention and never trust a hurricane not to be fickle and do random rapid intensifying or bobble 1 degree and hook inland to the town just North or South of you. Take them seriously. Ask any old time Floridian and they will tell you what to do and believe them, and do it. Pick up a guide at Publix or go to their site now online or do both.
I’ve told people when I lecture that Miami goes long periods of time without a landfalling major hurricane but they will and can hit even if you think they never will. Kids were born in 1966 after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, grew up and went off to college somewhere else and moved away and never went through a Major Andrew in 1992. True. Others grew up in the 1940s and early 1960s and every year there was a hurricane threatening or making landfall by them or nearby. The 1980s were quiet mostly, hurricanes went to Texas or up the East Coast or to Charleston.
It’s a crap shoot.
The odds may be on your side that in any given year they will miss you but at some point the odds are stacked against you. Be ready. Be prepared. Knowlede is power.
Long long blog today. I didn’t plan what I wanted to say but I just wrote from the heart.
I’m feeling much better, barely coughing, not wheezing, taking it easy and taking the time today to remember, look back and hoping that if one person reads this and it helps them survive a hurricane then I’ll be happy. But sometimes, either way, you needs to get it out of your system.
Ironically…………this is the street where I lived.
There’s an FPL truck parked by the house.
So know this is what it looks like…
…when they come to put your lights back on.
Or fix your lights.
Pretty palm trees…
…honestly linemen are heroes after a hurricane!
My hurricane tracking map from Andrew.
Today in 2023 we watch Franklin.
We watch the others turning away.
But if something forms in the Caribbean.
Near the Yucatan …
We may be in the path of where that storm turns.
The NHC does a great job.
We have great satellite imagery.
But Hurrianes can still be fickle.
They can still surprise us.
It’s Prime Time in the Tropics.
Have a great day.
Use your time wisely 🙂
Sweet Tropical Dreams,
@bobbistorm on Twitter and Instagram
If you are still reading this blog.
I’m gonna do something random.
I put into the browser…
August 1992 Top Songs.
I’ll go with my favorite.
My ex and my older kids will tell you.
I loved that silly song.
Hurricane Andrew broke a lot of hearts.
I remember it fondly in ways.
Miami Beach was damaged but lucky.
It was a terrible storm.
I live in NC now with my husband.
He goes to the beach with me often…
… watches while I dance in the waves.
Before a hurricane comes…
…or waving to one passing by.
I worry about the kids in Miami.
They worry about me up in NC.
And life goes son…
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