After a photo of the three Hatem kids of South Dade, sleeping in the parking lot of their family’s hotel, was published in last week’s Hurricane Andrew retrospective, one of them sent this note from Indianapolis.
I can’t describe my feelings about that day or that time of my life in one word. It was definitely a test. A test to survive the storm, a test to want to survive after. You saw the best and worst of people during that time. You learned the value of those you loved and the lack of value of the things you had.
I also became the most well versed 14 year old when it came to construction and insurance claims. A skill I hope to never pass down to my children. I often feel like my life is divided into two parts, before Andrew and after. Nothing was ever the same after Andrew.
I don’t have the best memory in the world, but I recall that time clearly. What I wore, the feeling of the fiberglass in my skin, my distinct hatred of looters, the fact that we had one of the only working phones in the city, the woman who fled her hotel room to the hotel bar with her screaming parrot, the joy of taking a shower days later.
My family and I made it through and grew up happy and healthy. I am 34 now, my brother 32…he is now married with two adorable sons. My sister Katrina is 30 and still living in Homestead. My brother and I moved to Indianapolis for college, but make it home for vacations and holidays.
Here is a photo of the three of us, plus my nephew and sister-in-law, and siblings from my father’s new marriage. I am in the black dress and my sister Katrina is in the orange. We feel very lucky to have survived that day and to have survived the aftermath. Your picture of our family defines that experience and gives us a tangible image of that time. It’s been an important photo to our family, and one we discuss often. Thank you for taking it.
The author is membership sales and services manager with the Indiana Sports Corporation.