Maybe the gunman in their driveway should have been a warning sign.
Kathy and Mike Stone were preparing for Andrew in Country Walk, a development that would become the most notorious symbol of shoddy construction that contributed heavily to Andrews $26.5 billion in damage.
But robbers struck before the storm. Mike had taken the car to gas up Saturday night, followed by a friend who planned to stay in their home with her two children. Once in line, the friend realized shed forgotten her purse and returned tailed by thugs scouting prey at the busy station.
Kathy Stone recalls her friends daughter, who had heard cars pull up, calmly reporting, There is a man in the driveway with a gun telling my mom to get on the ground.
Moments later, her friend ran in screaming to lock the doors. We snatched the kids up and literally threw them in the closet, recalls Stone, who now lives in Leesburg. Fortunately, her husband returned and the robbers fled.
Though shaken, no one had been hurt. They spent Sunday boarding up before Mike, an associate warden at the nearby federal prison, was ordered to work. The Stones had never weathered a hurricane but neighbors, some of them natives, assured Kathy Stone she and her two children would be fine in a community miles from the coast.
That fallacy was shattered around 4:30 a.m. Stone was on the phone with her husband when something popped violently sliding glass doors sucked from frames and a burning smell filled the room. The last thing Mike heard was, We smell smoke. The smoke, it would turn out, came from another home but it would take another day for Mike Stone to find out if his family was dead or alive.
For Stone, her friend and the four children, the next few hours were a terrifying scramble through a house disintegrating around them. They all piled into a big master bathtub, covering themselves with a mattress, but were forced to flee from room to room as rain and wind poured in.
The children were whimpering. My friend and I barely spoke. We just kept looking at each other. Is this it? Is this it? Its a petrifying feeling.
Today, when Kathy Stone talks about that terrible weekend I always tell people my children spent one night in a closet because of robbers in my driveway and the next night in the bath tub under a mattress because of Andrew.
Hurricane Andrew 20 years later
- The Intro
- The Captain
- The Emergency Manager
- In Country Walk
- At Turkey Point
- Stories of comfort
- Broward bound
- The Weatherman