Marcela Rubio lived in Honduras, but in the summer of 1992, her mother was working as a live-in housekeeper in Miami. Rubio went to visit and in late August they found themselves caught in the fury of Andrew.

Her mother worked for a Lebanese-Israeli family that lived in an apartment near the water. Like others, they decided to pass the storm at a friend's house further inland. Rubio remembers being excited about spending the weekend at a big house with a shaded pool.

The 10 adults and four children at the house crammed into a hallway as the strongest winds approached. They held their knees to their chests and listened to a battery-operated radio. Rubio recalls the nervous worried talk of the adults, uttered in French, Arab and Israeli accents.

"This is worse than the war in Lebanon!" one cried.

The house was barely left standing: The windows and roof were gone by the time the last gusts ceased. Everything, she remembers, was covered in glass, like something she might have seen in Honduras.

"To see that happen in the United States, a wealthy nation, somewhat connected the two places in my mind and made them equal for a brief moment," she said.

She returned to Honduras but moved to the United States a year later, and the storm has remained a vestige connecting her to Miami. Today, Rubio, 27, is a caseworker for the City of Miami Beach. Each hurricane season, she makes presentations to the elderly on storm preparations.

"There is a deep understanding among those who went through (Andrew)," she said. "But I feel that it has almost become folklore, and it could never happen again."


My house was largely spared but our neighborhood was mostly demolished.

A two-story house on our block was reduced to one. The trees that had neatly lined our street were scattered across the lawns in pieces, or missing altogether. A few doors down, my friend's house was left uninhabitable. I remember going inside with her to try and find clothing; most of it was ruined. When we looked up to the ceiling we could see the sky.

It's the sky I remember most vividly. Stars are usually hard to see in Miami. The city is large, dense and filled with lights. But for those few weeks without electricity, nature provided us with an exquisite view.

The recovery felt unbearably long. I remember the empty aisles at the supermarket, and going from one store to another in search of bottled water and a generator to power our refrigerator with my parents. When we finally found a block of dry ice, our joy was uncontainable.

Slowly, the streets were cleared and roofs repaired. My father and our neighbors lined the block with royal palms, chosen because they were the most likely to withstand another storm, though they looked small and unremarkable when they were first put in.

A year later, I was assigned at school to write an essay on a life-changing experience. I wrote about Hurricane Andrew. The essay won a school prize and there began my interest in chronicling stories. Many other events would chart the path toward becoming a journalist, but if it had not been for Hurricane Andrew, I may never have discovered the value of capturing experience in writing.

I am reminded of the sights and sounds of Andrew whenever I report on a storm today.

The house where we lived looks remarkably similar to how it did before the storm. There is a new owner and to a passer-by, it would be hard to tell a hurricane had ever blown through. The only thing that looks different is the trees. They now reach high above the tallest rooftops on the street.