Major Events, Social Issues

My Experience with Hurricane Andrew; a category 5 — 27 years ago — year 1992

I don’t remember getting even any hurricane warnings until that year. The news of course were focusing on tracking this major hurricane. The landfall happened in the early morning around 5am — on Aug. 24, which was a monday. Our business had shut down completely and we were told to keep watching the news and check to see when it was safe to return to work.

I remember I was out shopping for some last minute items and still did not worry too much. How bad could a Hurricane category 5 really be? My husband though was getting very worried and yelled at me on the phone to drop everything and get home as fast as I could. 

Some of my coworkers also felt that there was nothing to worry about. Unfortunately some of them lived in areas that were hit hard. They needed to get temporary housing because their house was so badly damaged–it had become inhabitable. Thankfully they had insurance. 

We had another family staying with us, since we felt it was safer in our area.

We all huddled together in our living room downstairs. Everything was boarded up. It felt eerie. We still had electricity and were able to follow the news. Still nothing happened –later during the night we heard on the radio that people started to panic in some areas. The actual landfall happened around 5 am in Homestead which is about an hour drive from where we lived.

The winds started to pick up and we could hear the howling.Our house began to move back and forth — it was felt by everyone. We did not know what to expect and so we just waited. Maybe some of us even got some sleep. We survived the night without any damage to our house. 

The Aftermath:

On the news we heard the repeated instructions for everyone to stay inside. No one knew what the situation was. There was complete power outage now. Of course we were prepared with batteries, food and water. But no one was concerned about food now. None of us had ever gone through an experience like that. Not knowing what was happening outside was very difficult to cope with. 

After a few hours around noon we dared to open the door. It was very quiet. Our neighborhood looked in good shape. As far as we could see there was no roof damage. But all the roads were impassable. Traffic lights did not work since there was no power. Now we needed to figure out a way to deal with the heat.–This was August and it was very hot.

We knew now that the hurricane had completely left our state and it was safe to take down the shutters and open the windows. Most of our neighbors went outside to get some air and some people started to share meals. Everything had to be used quickly. So for about two days we had enough fresh food to cook and share! This was one of the greatest experiences I had ever before. People who had never met, because everyone liked to inside inside the air conditioned homes came out and now we became a real community. This lasted about two weeks until the power came back. Then people would again close their windows and stay in their homes. 

It is my dream–that as a people we can go back and bring it into our modern lives with all the conveniences — what is most precious–the relationships, the caring for one another. We keep hearing about the increasing problem with loneliness. I dare say that it is an easy problem to solve. We need to think really hard and honest–What is it that keeps us isolated from one another??–Once we have an honest assessment we’ll have the problem solved. And it won’t cost anything except a change in Attitude or Mindset.

I know there are many areas where it took much longer to restore power and getting life back to normal. There is a lot of information online about the actual impact and aftermath of the Hurricane. But here I just wanted to give a glimpse of what it is like to be caught in the middle of it. 

Much was learned from this disaster. The building code changed. Now every time there is a hurricane warning a state of emergency will be declared. Just in case an area gets hit — everything is in place for a quick recovery. 

I still get tears in my eyes when I think how the government sent help from so many other states. As a community or society we benefited a lot from that experience. We take things for granted and complain about even the smallest inconvenience.  

Florida had its share of Hurricanes. Of course the Dominican Republic where I live now also has to deal with them quite often. But since we live in Santiago which is surrounded by mountains, we don’t get the strong winds here. Only the torrential rains can cause real havoc here.

Every time there are hurricane warnings, we get messages from family and friends wanting to know, if we are okay. But thankfully our response is always — don’t worry, we are living in a safe area. 


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