MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The last time a Category 5 hurricane hit the Florida coast was Andrew, 25 years ago. It caused massive devastation south of Miami in the city of Homestead.
Its 175 mile per hour winds caused billions in damage, before the hurricane raced across the gulf and made landfall again in Louisiana. With Irma’s footprint about twice the size of Andrew, you can understand why Floridians are so concerned.
Bill Hudson spent a terrifying night as Andrew hit south Louisiana in 1992, while Esme Murphy covered the damage in Florida.
Coastal residents remember their hurricanes like we look back at blizzards, except hurricanes have names.
Andrew is the yardstick by which most are measured. According to forecasters, Irma may leave a path of destruction far worse.
WCCO’s Esme Murphy spent days covering the aftermath and shock in Homestead. The storm left behind $26.5 billion in damage, 65 deaths, and hundreds of thousands homeless or without electricity.
But as Floridians picked up, Louisiana hunkered down. Bill Hudson was just west of New Orleans where Andrew made a second landfall. By then, Andrew’s punch wasn’t nearly as deadly – but there was one terrifying night of ferocious wind and rain.
“I don’t know anybody who’s ever seen anything like this to hit south Florida,” one FEMA official said at a recent news conference of Hurricane Irma.
It was powerful statement, considering Andrew’s devastation, but that fear is warranted when the hurricanes are placed side by side –Irma’s footprint is twice the size, and evidence of its fury is found on the Carribean islands it’s already leveled.
With Irma barreling down on the Florida penninsula, highways are packed with evacuees who could soon see a new measure of fury.
Forecasters say Irma will be far more devastating than Andrew for the simple reason it is expected to cut straight up the Florida mainland, and not head back out to the Gulf, as Andrew did 25 years ago.
Here’s a look back at Esme Murphy’s coverage of Andrew in 1992: