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Hurricane Andrew, 25 Years Later: Fighting Diaper Rash And Impetigo In An Emergency Daycare Center

Twenty-five years ago this week, Hurricane Andrew destroyed the Homestead area- including many of its daycare centers.

That’s when Sue Loyzelle stepped in.

She was the director of the local YMCA at the time. After the storm, she was tasked by the city to establish an emergency daycare center at Harris Field--right by the Air Force base in Homestead.

WLRN spoke to Loyzelle at the opening of HistoryMiami's Hurricane Andrew: 25 Years Later exhibit in our Miami Stories audio recording booth. Below is what she told us in the booth: 

We had 20 kids the first day and we grew and grew and grew up till 200 kids. And it was just one giant room. And people from all over the country came and helped us because it was all voluntary run.

Because we couldn’t find our staff and the parents needed a place for their kids to go so that they could rebuild their lives. So the parents would line up at 4 in the morning just to get the first 200 spots in the daycare center. 

The military helped us out a lot with feeding of the babies and the children and providing the linens, like washing everything for us in the military base. They would even come in on their breaks and hold the babies. The kids were really devastated and like if there was a thunderstorm or rain they would freak out. 

We had a lot of diaper rash and impetigo because of the mosquitos and from it being so hot. We put the bottles of water in the sun to warm it so we could give the babies baths because it was so so hot. We had a lot of volunteers that kept them busy and distracted and did arts and crafts. 

We had dance therapists that volunteered to come down and had them act out how to be a hurricane and move in the wind. If it wasn’t for the volunteers, we would have never had an emergency daycare and we never would’ve had all the people taken care of. 

This story, as told by Sue Loyzelle, is part of an oral history series called "Miami Stories" - a partnership with HistoryMiami museum. 

You can hear all the stories we collected and aired on WLRN for the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew here: 

Katie Lepri Cohen is WLRN's engagement editor. She previously covered city government and corruption, environment and the arts at the Miami Herald. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Florida International University.