Twenty-five years ago radio and television stations throughout the southeast coast of Florida were in wall-to-wall coverage watching and waiting as Hurricane Andrew, which was first projected to hit southern Palm Beach County, shifted and strengthened.
Then, at 3:31 a.m. on Monday, August 24, 1992, people in Miami-Dade and Broward County watched or listened to the simulcast on radio station Y-100 (WHYI-FM) as WTVJ’s Bryan Norcross, Tony Segreto, and Kelly Craig moved from the fancy news set in the studio to their “safe spot,” a bunker-like storeroom. “When you see us move, it’s time for you to move into the safe spot in your home,” they had told their audience. Soon after a lady named Madeline called the station on her still-working landline phone and through tears told Norcross she was under a mattress in the bathroom while her husband and son shouldered the door to keep the wind from breaking through.
The story of Hurricane Andrew is important not just from a historical perspective, but because of the lessons it provides. The people of the state of Florida have not faced a storm the strength of Andrew in twenty-five years, while the population along the vulnerable coast has exploded—over six million people now live in Miami-Dade/Broward/Palm Beach counties alone.
Bryan Norcross’s story in my book, Towers in the Sand: The History of Florida Broadcasting, is titled “What happens after a hurricane has everything to do with what you do before a hurricane.” Preparation is the key—even something so simple as having an old-fashioned, battery powered AM/FM radio so you can hear important safety and recovery information after the power has failed, the Internet is down, and cell phone service is overloaded. You can read an excerpt of Bryan’s story by clicking here.
Bryan recently published a new book on Hurricane Andrew. Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of WeatherUnderground.com, published an illustrated review. Check it out here.
And for an interesting audio reminder of the days during and after Andrew, check out this adaptation of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” by former Y-100 DJ Joe Johnson, now a morning host on WLRN-FM. Here’s the link.