Re June 1 letter by Priscilla Sakal, “Surfside Beach woman heeds Hurricane Andrew lessons”
As I read Ms. Sakal’s letter about Hurricane Andrew, it brought back a flood of memories, as my wife, Judy; daughter, Claudia, and I lived through Andrew. I had retired from Homestead Air Force Base a couple of years earlier, and we remained in the area, spending a total of 11 years down there.
Having very minimal hurricane threats of the years, no one took Andrew seriously, even on the day before it was heading straight toward us. My wife ironed up some clothes, in case the power went out, and I figured we’d be OK, riding the storm out in our concrete block condo. As it kept building up speed and staying on a straight path to Homestead, my wife and daughter finally convinced me to go to a shelter. We drove about 15 miles north to a middle school closer to Miami, signed in and hunkered down in the home economics classroom around some sewing machines for the long night to come. It was a night of anticipation, worry and prayer. We had no windows, but could hear the awful sound of the storm causing damage outside.
Come daylight, when we were allowed to peek outside, it looked like a war zone. The Red Cross said it might be a week before we would be able to return to our property to check out the damage. We, however, were able to get out to our vehicle (which was later totaled by the insurance co). We were able to drive our heavily damaged car back to Homestead, thinking we would drive out of the damage, only to later find out that Homestead took a direct Category 5 hit, as did our condo. There wasn’t much left, but we were fortunate to save some clothes and some photos in two closets that weren’t damaged. We lost both cars and the condo. The next few days were a nightmare -- trying to recover any property and personal items, arrange transportation out, and survive in the intense heat, rain and mosquitoes of South Florida.
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Needless to say, we have since gained much respect for hurricanes, and as we approach the 20th anniversary of Andrew, I would ask all Grand Strand residents to take these storms seriously, and evacuate if told to do so. Gather your supply kit and leave early. Hurricanes don’t discriminate; they’ll destroy everything in their path.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.