20th Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew

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That Monday the first week of classes at University of Miami were to begin but that was the year Hurricane Andrew paid an unexpected visit. It was August 24th, 1992. That weekend Lollapalooza was on Saturday night. I didn’t go but my band mates all did and came back high on mushrooms. The next day everyone was at Home Depot and Publix buying supplies while were stocking up on dope and tequila. All our neighbors are boarding up there houses and heading out of town and we were playing in the living room having a party. By nightfall, when they knew it was going to hit us, we piled the couches up against the front windows, and whatever else we could find. We were kind of left to fend for ourselves. We were still playing when the power went out about 2 am. It was all still fun and games ‘til the huge tree in the front yard came crashing down, smacking against the front of the house. That scared the shit out of us. Then we hunkered down in the hallway and kept partying as we rode out the storm. And what a hell of a storm it was, a Category 5. That old house took a beating. When the eye of the storm passed over us at dawn, we walked out in the yard. It was eerily still. Some of my neighbors had lost their roof. All the streets were blocked by down trees and powerlines. We took a look around and then went back inside, there was still some more storm to go. That morning when it finally passed, we went in to the backyard and found a huge parrot ( I think a mackaw ) with a broken wing. We figure he came from Parrot Jungle just down the road. We took him in and nursed him back to health. Later me and a buddy biked all the way to Mattheson Hammock Park. There’s a marina there. The first thing we see at the front gate of the park is the ice machine from the marina a mile down the road just sitting there. On the road we saw boats in the middle of the forest, no trees down around them. They came flying straight down. When we got to the marina, there would be demolished boats on top each other next to a boat with not a scratch. Never seen anything like it.

 

When we biked back, U.S. 1 was utter chaos. ( yeah even more than usual! ) It was full of cars but all the traffic lights were out. No power anywhere. People were standing in line in the dark at the Tom Thumb to buy whatever they could, cash only of course. It was chaos. The National Guard was called and there was curfew at dusk. This went on for months.  What was supposed to be the band’s first gig on the U.M. Patio was cancelled but we ended debuting at Tent City in Homestead playing on a wooden stage, all the equipment running by generator. That was only a few days after Andrew. When we drove down there it was quite a sight. South Dade had been really devastated. We were playing to people who had lost everything and were standing in line for something to eat.  I thought I’d try to cheer them up by playing an old blues classic “ They call it Stormy Monday…” The crowd erupted shouting “ Boo! “ and good naturedly throwing stuff at us. It was good to make them smile. We ended playing 3 different tent cities One weird experience is we had finished playing and it started to rain so we all got in the truck stacked with equipment. The windows were all fogged over as we sat in the truck smoking smoking a joint in the middle of a Christian Missonary Group’s tent that we had played in earlier. As we sat in the truck, they all gathered around us boasting about how many souls they saved that day. ” How many souls did you save today, Brother Bob? ” People had signed some piece of paper saying they were going to turn their life over to the Lord. It was like a fricking Amway meeting. These people had just lost their house and everything else they were exploiting them in their moment of vulnerability. I don’t know it just seemed so phony.  We sat in the truck  in amazement, smoking a joint, watching the whole thing. Like I said our windows were fogged and they never knew we were there.

Andrew had whacked Miami hard but we carried on in style. The neighbors would come over our house at night for a backyard barbeque and we’d play acoustic guitars. I was out of power at Manor Lane for three months. They had power in North Miami so we would drive up there to buy food and take showers. One of the guys parents lived up there. We knew this guy Jose who would score some bud for us on Calle Ocho. One day when he stopped by our parrot was missing. I guess he took it to sell it. It was such a beautiful bird. You know years later my Mom showed me a picture of my Dad and my sisters posing with parrots.

” Where was that taken? ” I asked.

” Parrot Jungle ” she said.

” …in South Miami? When were you guys in South Miami? “

” Oh that was the year before you were born…”

Woah, seeing that picture I had that feeling of Deja Vu. Now I remember. Oh yeah that was the first time I saw these people, seems like a nice family to incarnate in…

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