Case History #2 ..."Hurricane Andrew"

I arrived in Homestead Florida about 24 hours after Hurricane Andrew destroyed it.

JP and I were traveling together. His job was to assess the damage for client claims. Mine was to document the destruction on film. Andrew was being called the storm of the century and from what JP and I saw, it was true.

We arrived at what I'll call the "Sunshine Center" for the emotionally disabled and saw patients walking aimlessly. Many were disoriented and in need of help. There was broken glass and debris everywhere. A section of the main building was in the pool.

A patient, "Joe," was barefoot and bleeding. Others were crying. There was no food or clean water. The power was off. I kicked open a vending machine and handed out sodas to the residents. JP tried for hours to contact help on his cellular phone. Eventually he did reach the authorities. They said they were swamped and would do what they could. I photographed.

On our way to the next destination JP did the driving while I watched for images. Often I yelled, "Stop!" jumped out of the car, photographed and got back in the car.

JP pushed two palm trees off the road with our car; drove around hundreds of downed wires and through a flood of water that seemed at least two feet deep.

Had we arrived at our destination? We searched for street signs. One was wrapped around a tree. Another was embedded in the ruins of someone's home. Yes we had arrived.

I got out of the car and did a 360 degree visual sweep. All I could see was destruction. In every direction as far as my eyes could see nothing remained standing.

JP took off looking for the local company broker. I walked in the opposite direction. We agreed to meet back at the car in one hour. A few hundred yards down the road I came across a military hospital unit. Doctors and nurses were running around tending to people who were lucky enough to find the hospital. Helicopters were buzzing overhead, police cars were racing in every direction, sirens blaring. The Red Cross was handing out food, water and blankets. A senior citizen holding on to his wife walked toward the hospital tent dazed, blood streaming down his head. From the tent I heard a woman scream, then I heard a baby cry. My god, I thought to myself, someone just gave birth. I continued to take pictures. I shot sixty rolls of film that day.


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