Hurricanes don’t take you by surprise, but they can fool you.
For days, you follow their every move. They grow stronger; they weaken. They speed up, they slow down. They head this way, then jog just a little bit that way.
Hurricane Andrew — the great Miami storm of our era — didn’t take us by surprise. But it fooled us.
I was deputy city editor on Aug. 23, 1992. I drove the family clunker to the Herald building; if storm surge soaked the beast, so be it. The shiny Dodge Caravan was safe at home in South Miami-Dade.
We hadn’t been expecting Andrew this soon, but the storm sped up.
I spent Andrew night on the fifth floor of One Herald Plaza. Lots of Herald people — reporters, editors, employees who had nowhere else to go — spent the night, some to work, others for safe haven.
I dozed off at one point on the floor of the city editor’s office. A piercing hum stirred me. What’s the buzz? Vibrating window glass. Should I be lying down next to them? No more sleep.
At first light, another editor and I crept outside. Trees down everywhere. Buildings glazed in light green — painted by blown leaves and palm fronds. Bad, but not catastrophic.
Soon after, the first reports from South Dade: Airplanes scattered like toys at Tamiami Airport. Roofs peeled off homes; walls caved in.
Andrew flattened my South Dade home. And dropped a fence on my shiny minivan.
We didn’t think Andrew would be so strong, but when it made landfall, it exploded with fury. We thought Andrew was headed to North Miami-Dade or Broward, but the storm zeroed in on South Dade.
Andrew fooled us.