25 years ago

08/23/17 08:49

The morning before Hurricane Andrew I stood on our new balcony – we had moved into the condo one month earlier – and watched an unending parade of boats heading up the New River. Not a good sign, I thought. Then I turned and looked at our wall of floor-to-ceiling windows unadorned by hurricane shutters.

Inside, I took my oldest books down from their shelves, wrapped them in garbage bags, and placed them on the sink in the bathroom. Then I closed the bathroom door. A few minutes later I locked the apartment and headed to the newsroom. It would be safer there, I thought, and there would be people to keep me company. (Hania was in Russia on a business trip.)

A little before midnight a few of us took a walk down to the river. It was a perfectly still night. I was scared but also, like any recent transplant, a little curious.

I slept on the floor underneath my desk. The wind howled for a few hours, suggesting mayhem. But that was taking place much farther south as, just before hitting land, Andrew had taken an unexpected left turn.

I got to see the extent of it the following Sunday when people in features were recruited to relieve the exhausted reporters. Driving through south Miami to attend a service at a roofless church, I got disoriented. Streets signs were gone, stoplights weren’t working, the trees that still stood bore no leaves. In Florida’s greenest season the world had turned brown. My curiosity had been sated.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

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