Today makes 19 years of the devastating direct hit South Florida took from Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was the strongest hurricane to hit South Florida in almost 30 years (Hurricane Betsy in 1965). At landfall, Andrew had the 3rd lowest pressure (922 mb) in history (Labor Day 1935 and Camille). A total of 26 people lost their lives during the storm. Andrew was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history for 13 years until Katrina tore through Louisiana.
Ground zero was Homestead, Florida. Almost ALL of the mobile homes in the area were destroyed. Many of South Florida’s communication and transportation infrastructures were severely impaired along with 1.4 million customers were without power. Some residents were without power for up to six months after the storm.
Due to the poor building infrastructure and the 40 mile wide path of destruction, 150,000 – 200,000 people were left homeless and over 600,000 homeless and businesses were destroyed or severely impaired by winds, waves, and rain. Because of Andrew, building codes in Miami-Dade County were revamped. The unemployment rate in county rose to 14% in the aftermath.
The devastation was so severe, that 22,000 military troops were deployed. At the time, that was the largest military operation ever in the U.S. The military also supplied within a week of Andrew – 98 helicopters, 1,300 vehicles, 1,333 tents enough to house 27,000 people, 30 portable kitchens, 100,000 blankets, and 38,500 cots.
Andrew was my first hurricane experience that I can vividly remember. During that time, I lived in North Miami (35+ miles north of Homestead) and we were without power and water for over two weeks. During those times is when you appreciate electricity, water, T.V., A.C., etc. Going to bed with our windows open and falling asleep to the sound of generators was the norm for two weeks for us.
Unfortunately, we went through the same thing for a longer period of time with Hurricane Wilma, but that is another story for another day.
Andrew was a destructive hurricane that no one in South Florida ever wants to see again.
R.I.P. you bastard !!