20 years after Andrew: South Florida's recovery

10:39 AM, Jun 1, 2012   |    comments
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Homestead, Florida -- Hurricane Andrew slammed into South Florida in August, 1992, leaving much of the area in ruins.  20 years later, the area is unrecognizable.

10 News reporter Mike Deeson and photojournalist Gene Yagle covered the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and returned twenty years later to witness South Florida's recovery.

They revisited the Boardwalk RV Park in Homestead.  Andrew wiped out nearly every mobile home in the park.   Despite the devastation, some of the survivor decided to return.

"I lost everything I owned.  Everything." said Carl Johnson.  He decided to rebuild his home, but even 20 years later finds it hard to talk about Hurricane Andrew.

"It gets me scared," said Johnson.  "Every time I hear a hurricane, it never fails, it drives me nuts. It makes me shake."

Steve Kirby rode out the storm on his sailboat at Dinner Key in Coconut Grove.  His boat was one of the few that survived.

"When the storm was happening, everything that went by, the boats that were going by, flipping through the air, looked like styrofoam," said Kirby.

Homestead mayor Steve Bateman is a lifelong resident of Homestead.  Like most, he couldn't imagine how the city would recover.

"We were devastated," said Bateman.  "Homestead was flattened."

It took more than a dozen years to rebuild the city.  Now, Homestead is stronger than ever.  It has tripled its population and attracted new business.  But survivors know that everyone in Florida could be at risk for another Andrew.

"Never say never," said Bateman, "because it could happen to any of us."