In 1950, Category 4 Hurricane King marched up Biscayne Blvd. It’s relatively small center made a narrow swath of damage, but a large impression. Over the next ten years, not one hurricane affected the South Florida area. Some small tropical storms came close, but during the busy baby boom years of the 1950s it was tropically quiet. World War II Vets with “sand in their shoes” from their basic training days in Miami moved back to Miami and bought homes on VA Loans in brand new subdivisions in suburbia. Ten years went by and these new Miamians had never seen a real hurricane. They had heard about the hurricanes of the 1940s and the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 from Old Timers raised here, but the hurricanes were mostly thought of as the University of Miami’s football team.
It’s common in quiet years for Miami to have building booms. Miami in the 1950s developed west out Coral Way and Bird Road as well as north towards North Miami Beach. Life went on and life was good for those growing up in Miami. Then, in September of 1960, Hurricane Donna rolled off the coast of Africa, a dreaded Cape Verde storm moved steadily westward, up and over the Caribbean Islands straight towards South Florida. In 1992 Miamians stared in disbelief as Hurricane Andrew intensified into a Category 5 Hurricane marching due west towards Miami-Dade County. They thought it would turn away like Hurricane David did in 1979. It kept coming and the rest is history.
For kids in Miami, Hurricane Season can bring a measure of excitement. It’s basically the only chance you get to miss school, as snow days never happen. Adults often live in denial believing hurricanes always go somewhere else like New Orleans or up the coast to the Carolinas. It’s easy in quiet times to believe hurricanes don’t happen. It turns out that Hurricane Donna was a wake up call for Miami, before Hurricane Cleo in 1964 and Betsy in 1965. Then 27 years past before the next big blow when Hurricane Andrew roared into South Dade.
It has been ten years since the 3 hurricane sisters of Katrina, Rita and Wilma. A decade of quiet can make people who lived here forget what it was like to go ten days without electric. A decade of quiet can lull new timers into thinking hurricanes hardly ever happen. If you aren’t sure what to do check out the link from the NHC for tips on how to prepare for a hurricane. http://www.nhc.
Now is the time to make plans for what you would do if you lost your power for a week. What supplies would you need? Make sure your prescriptions are renewed, your pantries stocked with non-perishable foods and make sure your shutters work. If you don’t have shutters how you would board up your windows? Where would you go if you live in an evacuation zone?There is no better time than today to find answers to those questions.