Hurricane Andrew’s lesson: Take storms more seriously

Hurricane Andrew's lesson: Take storms more seriously

Following hurricane Andrew: Piece of roofing plywood that almost severed a tree with the tremendous wind force behind it.

With all the recent hurricane warnings that we have been receiving lately I thought it might be a good idea to review what I went through in hurricane Andrew some years ago.

Like all of the other warnings, we were advised that a tropical storm might be headed our way which eventually became an actual hurricane strike here. Having lived in Florida for many years and never having seen a hurricane, I thought this was just a case of news overkill. I totally ignored the warnings until my wife called me from her tennis match to tell me that there are long lines of people waiting to get in to Home Depot to buy stuff.

Exactly what they were buying was a mystery to me, but seeing everyone scurrying about buying stuff I thought I had better join the crowd. Rather than fight the traffic getting into Home Depot I decided to visit several of our local hardware stores hoping to buy stuff. I still wasn’t sure what kind of stuff to buy but the shelves were practically stripped empty by the time I arrived. Just to feel like I was a part of everything I bought a few boxes of nails, some screws and that was about all that was left on the shelves.

For the rest of the day I watched Bryan Norcross tell us what he expected the storm to do and where it was heading. I decided to go to a local movie that night and I remember the girl at the candy counter asking me about the hurricane. I assured her that my experience of living in Miami many years would lead me to believe that this was just another frightening announcement from the TV stations and radio. I hope that young lady doesn’t remember me.

I went home after the movie, switched on the TV and heard Bryan Norcross telling us that on its present course hurricane Andrew would arrive somewhere in the Perrine-Cutler Ridge area. I thought this was a ridiculous assumption based on the fact that hardly anyone knew at that time where Perrine and Cutler Ridge were plus the fact that the hurricane would have to make a straight line towards this area to have any hopes of hitting it.

I went to sleep that night somewhat comfortable in the fact that no one was going to fool me. Later in the evening I began hearing popping sounds coming from my office which at that time had a drop ceiling. When I arrived into my office I noticed that the wind currents were sucking the panels up out of their tracks. No problem for a master handyman like me, I climbed on top of my desk and began placing them back into the channels where they belong. As I was doing this all of the windows in my office blew out simultaneously and knocked my computer, printer and everything else on my desk onto the floor I became a bit panicky and started trying to disconnect all of the cables so that I could bring them safely into a better part of the house.

My wife, using language that she hardly ever uses, told me to get the blank blank blank out of the office before I get killed. We then went to another bedroom in the house facing the same direction I opened the door and noticed that the vertical blinds in that room were now horizontal and the wind was whipping through it unimpeded. Next the living room windows began to blow out one by one and being the tough macho male that I am I began crying that we are all going to die.

My wife, who totally crumbles when she breaks a nail, immediately took over, brought bedding into the center hallway in our house that had no walls exposed to the outside and created a safe nest for us to stay in during the storm. At least someone was thinking rationally in the Sochin family. As the storm became more intense the noise was similar to a jet plane about to land on a nearby runway. Added to that was the sound of glass breaking all over the house which made us think of Crystal Nacht.

Mrs. Sochin thought it would be a good idea to evacuate our house but I felt that we were safer at home than trying to find a shelter to accept us. So we stayed. We were fortunate enough to be in the north eye wall of the hurricane, which of course had the highest winds.

I didn’t want to miss anything so I crawled along the floor, snuck into the bedroom and peeked out from behind the curtains to see what was going on outside. What I saw was a lot of lightning that had been turned green by the salt water that was being carried along by the wind. I have never seen a Frankenstein movie that was more frightening than this. When the storm finally moved on I remembered the warnings not to go outside because that might be the eye of the storm and the rest of it could be coming along soon. Being on the north eye wall this was not a problem for us.

My wife and I argued (unusual for us) about where to park our automobiles. She had read that parking it is close to a wall on the north side of the building would be the best bet. Being the smarter of the two of us and knowing about vehicles I decided to put my car underneath our two huge Ficus trees in front of our house that would certainly protect my car from any possible damage.

At the end of the day my wife had a blown rear window which just about every car in South Florida had at that time but my own car was buried under the two trees that somehow got lifted out of the ground and landed on top of my car. I guess I should have listened to the Mrs.
We were forced out of our house for over three months and each time I drove back to see whether any repairs have been made I would get lost because all of the familiar landmarks were gone. I am better prepared now for any future storms having installed storm shutters on all the windows purchased two generators, and enough peanut butter, tuna fish, and whatever to last for some time. We did go to the local supermarket prior to the storm to make sure we had purchased enough stuff.

I saw one lady with a shopping basket full of ketchup. I don’t know how long she thought it would be before ketchup became available but I thought I could get by with perhaps two or three bottles.

My final advice to anyone reading this column comes from my many years as a Boy Scout: “Be prepared!”

Read Ernie’s new book, When I was Your Age, available on Amazon and Kindle. Simply type “Ernest Sochin” in the search window.

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