With the 19th Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, we decided to look back and examine one of the worst storms, especially because one is in the Atlantic as we speak – Irene. Looking back on it, the weather pattern that hurricane season was not conducive for a tropical development. The 1991 El Nino lasted until early in the year, so systems were getting blown apart from the strong upper-level winds. Who knows what would have happened if it had never hit, needless to say tons of water damage and water extraction services would never have occurred.
On August 16th the first tropical depression of the year formed in the eastern Atlantic, and that is where it all started. For a couple of days no one knew whether or not the storm would even survive, and on August 21st Tropical Storm Andrew was 650 miles due east of Miami with 60 mph winds. The storm was forecasted to bend to the north in the general direction of central Florida. When the forecast upper-air charts arrived that day and they said that it would strengthen and move east over the original path, Tropical Storm Andrew became a threat and turned into Hurricane Andrew.
The next morning Andrew was a full-fledged hurricane with an eye, and faster speed. And by that night Andrew was a Category 3 with 125 mph winds and strengthening, things could not have been moving faster, or scarier. The following Sunday afternoon Andrew smashed Eleuthera in the eastern Bahamas.
That Monday everyone knew they were being hit, they just waited until the storm was over, a wait that felt like an eternity. Television stations recommended going to a safe spot and holding a mattress over people’s families and themselves, this advice saved thousands of lives. Stations even began moving locations to safer areas. And as people continued to wait it out, everyone was struck by terror. The worst of the storm was gone in about 3.5 hours. When people opened their doors in South Dade, or even got out from under their mattresses they were in disbelief as to what had just occurred.
As the national news programs covered the story, they reported that morning that Miami had “dodged a bullet,” but that was because they were in downtown Miami, miles away from where Andrew came ashore. The “hurricane zone,” as it came to be called, extended from Homestead and Florida City up to SW 120th street in Kendall.
After it hit anarchy struck, by Wednesday August 26, a hundred thousand people, if not more, were left without power, water, food, and security. The embattled director of the Dade County Emergency Management, went on TV and said, “Where in the hell is the cavalry on this one? They keep saying we’re going to get supplies. For God’s sake, where are they?” Apparently that was the catalyst for the government, and the U.S. military was sent. It did not happen immediately but by August 29th, the military was up and running and assuming control of the situation. A full six days after Andrew hit, people in South Dade got their first night’s sleep free from the fear that gangs of looters where going to break into their dark houses.