If you’re a regular listener to WLRN, you might recognize the voice of Phil Latzman, anchor and host at WLRN. Phil also happens to be one of NPR’s go-to guys whenever there’s a hurricane anyplace near South Florida. But it wasn’t always that way.
On the weekend before Hurricane Andrew hit in August 1992, Phil was young, living on South Beach, having a good time, playing basketball, going to the beach and listening to a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Under the Sun tells the stories of South Florida, and there’s no bigger South Florida story in recent history than Hurricane Andrew. Around 5:05 a.m. on August 24th, 1992, Andrew made landfall near the Homestead Air Force Base, and changed lives everywhere.
WLRN-Miami Herald News Reporter, Kenny Malone, spoke to a retired Army Colonel and semi-retired veterinarian, Richard McCormick, about his experience when the Category 5 winds arrived and it was raining cats and dogs.
The radio Geoffrey Philp inherited from his mother.
Credit Geoffrey Philp
Geoffrey Philp and his family were without power for two weeks after Andrew. At some point Geoffrey’s eldest daughter, Anna (6 years old during Andrew), got bored of playing hopscotch and told her dad: “I’m going to make a drawing, you write a poem.”
Credit Geoffrey Philp
“My mother’s hands always fascinated me…it was always her hands, plain and unadorned—a country girl’s hands–that told her life of struggle and triumph.”
As part of our “Remembering Andrew” series, we’re telling small stories about one of the biggest events in South Florida history. The series will run every week until August 24th, the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.
We’ve been collecting stories about Hurricane Andrew from people around South Florida for our “Remembering Andrew” series. We’ve also been combing through a lot of archival sound and video, including an archive we found called “Voices of Andrew.”
While we were working on ideas for stories to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, WLRN Miami Herald News journalist Rick Stone found some old tapes of his reporting after the storm. He reported many radio stories after Hurricane Andrew (you can hear some of those original stories on the players below), but one in particular inspired us.
The report Philip Grice, British consul-general, wrote about Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Click on the picture to read the full document. (Thanks to current consul-general, Kevin McGurgan, for showing us this document.)
Kevin McGurgan, current British consul-general in Miami
Credit Kevin McGurgan
Philip Grice, former British consul-general in Miami. He’s now a mayor in Wales.
We received several hundred responses when we called out to our audience for stories about Hurricane Andrew. As we learned while doing the “Remembering Andrew” project, people who experienced Hurricane Andrew still have vivid memories they are eager to share.
Today is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew in South Florida. The culmination of our “Remembering Andrew” project is our one hour documentary special, hosted by Kenny Malone and Alicia Zuckerman, with production help from Sammy Mack, Trina Sargalski and the entire WLRN-Miami Herald News team.
After Hurricane Andrew, ice became a precious commodity and a flashpoint of conflict.
Power was out, food was spoiling/rotting, and federal aid hadn’t arrived yet.
Deborah Gray Mitchell spent those first sticky days cleaning up debris outside her home in Belle Meade.
My friend brought us this gallon jug of ice, and in that gallon jug where it had melted a little bit was a little bit of water that that we could use to whet our whistle. It was just the most refreshing, happiest moment of my life to have a nice, cold drink of water.
We’ve been listening to your stories and memories of Hurricane Andrew and life afterward. Many people have told us that one of their strongest memories from after the storm is how neighbors–who might have usually just walked from their car to their door without saying hello–banded together.
In one Cutler Bay neighborhood, people were already friendly and helpful. As the storm was coming, they helped each other put up shutters. But after the storm, the neighbors became a kind of surrogate family.
We’re psyched to be able to share a piece of archival Hurricane Andrew ephemera from a familiar voice for some South Florida radio listeners. Joe Johnson has been a DJ at Majic 102.7 for the last 25 years. He hosts the nationally syndicated “Beatle Brunch” show.
For Susan Holtzman, the really terrifying parts of Hurricane Andrew didn’t begin until the day after the storm. Susan was nine months pregnant at Baptist Hospital in Kendall. It was the day before she was due to give birth.
One of the most iconic images of Hurricane Andrew is a photograph of flamingos, huddling on their toothpick legs in a tiled bathroom. Ron Magill, now communications director for Zoo Miami, snapped that picture after he and other staff (of then Miami Metrozoo) rounded up the flamingos and put them in the bathroom for safety.
I remember thinking, gosh, you know, this hurricane better come after all this work because I’m working my butt off and it better not be for nothing.
Geoffrey Philp shared his story and poem about an old transistor radio with Kenny Malone on WLRN. Philp inherited that radio from his mother, who carried it with her from home to home, even as they moved in Jamaica and later, around Florida.
It was the radio he listened to during Hurricane Andrew. Even though the radio no longer works, Philp can’t bring himself to get rid of it.
Philp is a poet, novelist, playwright and English professor at Miami-Dade College. Below is an homage he wrote to his mother.