Environment, Hurricane, News

25 years ago today: Hurricane Andrew hit Southern Florida

Twenty five years ago today, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever ripple through Southern Florida left damage and destruction in its path – including at the University of Miami.

It was Aug. 22, 1992, a Saturday night, when UM began preparing for Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane, set to make landfall within 36 hours. In preparation for the storm, freshman orientation, scheduled for Aug. 23, was cancelled.

Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely, associate director for residential life and staff development at the time, said she recalls how “quickly” the university put itself into action. In those 36 hours prior to the storm making landfall, residential assistants were briefed on the situation, over 4,000 students and their families were housed in Hecht and Stanford Residential Colleges and they were supplied with food and water.

“This storm came up extremely quickly,” Whitely said.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 25, Hurricane Andrew made landfall. With the storm packing 145 mph winds, the university suffered significant damages. The university sustained 52 damaged roofs, 80 windows and 1,300 trees. The damages hit faculty and staff members hard as well, over 400 lost their homes.

School of Communication Professor and Director of School of Communication Honors Program Mitchell Shapiro was one who saw firsthand the destruction that was left. According to Shapiro, he watched his neighborhood being destroyed live on TV while he was in northern Broward County at his brother’s house. The next morning, after the storm had passed, he drove back to his house.

“It is so hard to describe what we saw,” Shapiro said in an email. “As we got closer to my neighborhood, the damage and devastation grew exponentially. EVERYTHING was flattened. Just rubble. No trees, no identifying landmarks to know where you were.”

Though according to Shapiro, nearly every other house within two blocks from his was “90 to 100 percent destroyed,” his was untouched thanks to a part of a trailer that had blown up against his house.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I went inside and inspected everything. I couldn’t believe it but there was no damage to my home. The trailer segment had actually protected my house, as did several cars the blew into my lawn.”

Back at UM, the start of the fall semester was postponed by over two weeks. The university reopened on Sept. 14.

Despite the millions of dollars worth in damages to the university, everyone who was housed on campus during the hurricane was unharmed. Looking back, Whitely said she recalls her experience with Hurricane Andrew as “profound” and “deeply humbling.”

“I’m proud of our university efforts even before technology was available … that we were able to keep everyone safe,” she said. “Everyone worked as a team.”

Featured photo courtesy Flickr user Florida Sea Grant

August 24, 2017

Reporters

Amanda Herrera

Amanda Herrera can be reached via email at aherrera@themiamihurricane.com and through Twitter at @_AmandaHerrera.


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

He is considered among the finest defensive line coaches in the nation. And now, according to a writ ...

He used to be a Gator. But junior Danny Reyes is plenty happy to be back home and playing for the Un ...

View photos from the Syracuse at Miam ibasketball game on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Coral Gables. ...

University of Miami basketball coach Jim Larrañaga took the opportunity after Saturday’s 62-55 loss ...

A bunch of Miami Hurricane youngsters — and one former Gator-turned-Cane — made the University of Mi ...

Members of the University of Miami first response teams remind us of resources available and what to ...

Mexican activist, poet and novelist Javier Sicilia deplored the violence stemming from the “drug war ...

From the North Pole to the South Pole and everywhere in between, the art of UM alumnus Xavier Cortad ...

A panel of University of Miami faculty talked about the impacts of climate change during a meeting o ...

Walker IV scored 19, Izundu scored 14 and the Canes picked up a crucial win in South Bend. ...

The No. 25-ranked University of Miami women's golf team moved into a sixth-place tie on day two ...

After a standout first weekend at the plate with the No. 24 Hurricanes, Miami's Danny Reyes was ...

Miami women's basketball notched an impressive 77-62 triumph Sunday at Virginia, giving head co ...

Former University of Miami track and field standouts Shakima Wimbley and Tiffany Okieme were among t ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.