For the last two weeks, I’ve had August 24th on my mind. Was it someone’s birthday? Did I have an appointment I’d failed to write down? This morning, I open my local news page and realize it’s the 30 year anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. The monster hurricane and its aftermath were such a defining moment in my life, it’s hard to believe I’d forgotten the date.
I lived in Broward County, approximately 25-30 miles away from where Andrew made landfall. In the hours before, no one was sure of where Andrew would hit. We sat around our battery operated radio since power had been preemptively disconnected until we were reassured by local meteorologist Bryan Norcross that Broward would likely be spared. Still, most of my close friends lived in Miami. I was in my junior year at Barry University, a small private college in North Miami. When I realized the sound of a freight train was not coming from a train but the hurricane winds, miles away, I feared for my friends’ safety.
I’ll never forget the Miami Herald’s front page the next day or turning on the Today show and seeing the devastation. Thankfully, my friends had been unaffected, other than losing both power and water. In the coming weeks, my parents’ house would serve as a respite to friends in need of a shower and air conditioning.
For me, the impact of Andrew would come a couple of weeks later. The hardest hit areas were in the south of Dade County. Well known areas such as Miami Beach, Brickell and Coconut Grove had been relatively spared as far as I can recall. The year before, I had dated a guy who lived in the hardest hit area. Our break-up was mutual and there was no drama so I decided to call him to see how he’d fared. Fast forward almost thirty years since I picked up the phone and we have been married for 26 years, raising three children. It turned out that he’d spent the hours when the hurricane hit crouching down with his entire family in a tiny bathroom. The roof had been blown from the house. Exactly two months from that day, October 24th, I was his plus one at his best friends’ wedding and we’ve been together ever since.