Thursday, August 23, 2012

20 years ago tomorrow

I was going to write an entry about our first day at the new CC community, but that will have to wait - because I have just been reminded that twenty years ago tomorrow, one of the most traumatic events of my life took place.

It was Hurricane Andrew.

My family moved to Miami in 1984, when I was ten years old.  In August of 1992, I was an 18-yr-old high school grad excited about heading off to college.  I remember hearing about Andrew, but not really worrying much about it - after all, we'd lived in Miami for eight years and hadn't been hit by a hurricane yet, so I just assumed life would go on as it always had.

Not so much. 

I remember helping my dad use our neighbor's staple gun to put plywood over our windows; hurricane seasons had been so mild during our tenure in Florida that we hadn't even bothered to have proper hurricane shutters installed.  I went to bed that night thinking what a pain it would be to take all that plywood down the next day when nothing had happened.

In the middle of the night, I was awakened by the wind, which truly did sound something like a freight train.  I heard our dogs mewling, and went into the kitchen to check on them - and when I came back, the window over my bed had blown out.  As in, it was completely gone, frame and all - it was sucked right out of the wall. 

I freaked out, and ran into my parents' bedroom - they were awake by then too, and we heard another loud noise, which scared me enough that I ran into their walk-in closet.  I will never forget standing in that closet looking up at the door that led to the attic and watching it move - I was convinced that the roof was coming off, and we were all about to die.  (Incidentally, we found out later that our roof actually did come off, but not entirely - it was picked up and set back down.  Scary.)

The rest of the night is a blur.  I do recall my mom being in my bathroom (the only room in the house with no windows) with the three dogs, and my dad and I trying to hold shut the double doors on the front of the house - which became pointless after the sliding glass door directly opposite the front doors in the living room blew out. 

Hurricanes aren't like earthquakes or tornadoes; don't get me wrong, I'm sure those things are awful and terrifying, but they are over relatively quickly.  Hurricanes last for hours.  We were somewhat fortunate, in that Andrew moved relatively fast for a hurricane; by the next morning, the worst was over.  We were also somewhat unlucky, in that we were on the north wall of the eye, so our neighborhood was pummeled relentlessly all night - we didn't get to experience the freakish calm of being in the eye of the storm.

So much damage was done to our home, and those of our friends and neighbors.  I was able to go off to college a few days later as planned, but my parents lived in our house without power for almost a month before the insurance company moved them into an apartment so our house could be torn down to the studs and rebuilt. 

It was years before I could sit through even a normal thunderstorm without having at least a mild panic attack, and the threat of a hurricane sent me heading for the hills for the rest of the time that I lived in Florida.  I actually kept a list of hotels in N. Florida and S. Georgia that accepted pets so I could load up my little yellow dog in my Honda Civic and take off at a moment's notice if necessary. 

It's such a relief to not have to worry about that so much anymore.  I still experience a mild panic when it storms here in the Atlanta area, especially when the tornado sirens begin their eerie wail - but it's nothing like the sheer terror I felt that night twenty years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Eek, hurricanes would be scary.

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