Hurricane Andrew

On August 24th, 1992, a category 5 chainsaw called Hurricane Andrew cut a swath of ruin like no storm before it.More than 28,000 homes were destroyed, 107,000 damaged — a toll that made it the nation’s costliest natural catastrophe until Katrina in 2005. Fifteen people were killed in Miami-Dade alone. Dozens more died in exhausting months of clean-up. Some 180,000 were left homeless, 1.4 million without power. Hurricane Andrew also bulldozed South Florida’s most treasured natural areas. Plowing a 30-mile-wide path, the storm toppled centuries-old coral heads, flattened more than 70,000 acres of mangrove forests, shredded venerable hardwoods in tropical hammocks and pushed Dade’s already imperiled pinelands to the brink of oblivion.The numbers don’t fully explain the impact. South Miami-Dade resembled a post-war zone for one grueling summer — tent cities, food lines, soldiers on patrol, residents packing weapons. Andrew would strengthen building codes but send insurance rates soaring. It would force an overhaul of overwhelmed state and federal disaster agencies. It would fuel a boom in South Broward and flight from ground zero, where stress showed in spikes of divorce, murder and suicide rates.

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