Hurricane Andrew 30 years later

Published: August 24, 2022 6:47 PM EDT
Updated: August 24, 2022 6:52 PM EDT

30-years-ago Wednesday, South Florida was left stunned by the destructiveness, power, and ferocity of Hurricane Andrew.

Andrew was an overwhelming Category 5 storm, the highest level, with winds reaching 165 mph. Andrew’s power leveled the city of Homestead, causing $30,000,000 in damage.

Not only did it change the landscape of South Florida, but it changed how everything is built and how Floridians respond to a storm.

“It sounded like a freight train coming through the house,” David Reed said.

David Reed hopes he never sees that kind of power from a storm again.

“I’ve never seen anything with as much power as that,” David Reed said.

WINK News visited Reed, Jim, and Agnes Lawrence one year after Hurricane Andrew devastated Homestead.

Slow response from insurance companies, code enforcement problems, and unscrupulous builders made it impossible for Homestead to rebound quickly.

Anna Escalante didn’t hear the destructive winds outside her mother’s apartment but she felt the mood inside change.

“I do recall that all the adult figures in the household were quite worried quite scared,” Escalante said. “Very much unsure as to what was going on and what would the aftermath entail?”

And slow recovery led to other problems such as increased crime, looting, and fraud. A year after Hurricane Andrew it was discovered that many of the residents in Fema’s mobile home park in HOmestead didn’t live in Florida when Andrew hit.

For David, Jim, and Agnes it was a tough time, and getting past it was very difficult.

But, their experience has helped the state of Florida improve its response to disasters.

For people living in Homestead after the chaos that Andrew left behind, was hell on Earth with no food, water, power, and for many nowhere to live.

Former Naples mayor Bill Barnett shared some memories with WINK News.

“Oh my gosh, yeah, I mean it was they were horrific,” Barnett said. “Because we had never seen anything like that.”

“Well, we were scared. I mean, even though it you know, it hit on the other coast. And we didn’t know at the beginning, of course, which way it was going,” Barnett said. “And I mean, it was the, I mean, it landed as a cat five.

After that Florida adopted Miami-Dade building codes to make homes stronger and now emergency responders and power crews are on the ground immediately after a storm.

Dan Summers the director of emergency services in Collier County also spoke with WINK News.

“So I think part of that biggest lesson learned for me is to be guarded in this forecast be ready for that increase in forward motion or be ready for the increase in intensity and make sure your community as well positioned if we get that rapid intensification,” Summers said.