Survived a cat. 4 or 5 hurricane before?

Mar 18, 2004
Lawrence, KS
If you have survived a major hurricane before share your experiences here and some tips that you might have for someone who is going to experience Katrina.
I was in Albany, NY when Hurr Andrew made landfall. I survived it and made out quite well. So, I suggest fleeing 2000 miles from the landfall area ahead of time.
I was in Andrew (Venice, LA) and just missed the main force of it. Most survivors stuck to the major shelters (Schools, large brick stone and steel buildings like that) and rode out the wind. Anything constructed like that with a 2nd story has a real good shot of being a survivable shelter area. Definitely do NOT stay in a normal home if for no other reason than flooding.
I personally would never want to live through a Category 4 or 5. I don't understand why people would stay for so long, waiting till the last minute. For the unfortunate ones, I understand completely, but the ones staying, I really don't understand.
I was living in Gulfport, Mississippi during Hurricane Betsy in 1965, which was officially Category 4 with top winds of 155mph. We lived about a mile due north of the beach in the upstairs of a two-story wood frame duplex home. It hit in the middle of the night, rapidly flooding the neighbourhood with several feet of water. We had to move the downstairs neighbours upstairs with us. The next morning, there was a shrimp boat in our front yard.

I was in first grade at the time, so I don't remember a whole lot. I don't remember being scared or my parents being overly concerned. Just seemed like another new adventure for a kid. Florida and Louisiana got it a lot worse than us though. Of course, that reversed four years later when Camille destroyed Gulfport. Fortunately, we moved to Florida right after Betsy, so we missed Camille.
Andrew in '92

I lived through Andrew in 1992 in Miami. I was living in Kendall at the time so we didn't get the direct hit but Homestead was less than 20 miles away and they got the worst of it. All I can say is definitely evacuate is you are in a low-lying area or if you're in a weak building (i.e. wooden, trailer, etc.).

I somewhat experienced Andrew. I was working on cruise ships, and we were docked in the bahamas when the decision was made to RUN! The initial thought was to get to Miami and get the passengers off, but we didn't have time. Port hole covers were bolted down and we fled south toward Cuba. We expereinced some waves on the way, and barf bags lined the corridors. Passengers, many of whom were from Miami, were terrified for their families. It was difficult for the families to contact shore - this occurred before everyone had cell phones. The radio officer worked non-stop making calls. We waited off the coast of Cuba with about a dozen other cruise ships. We lost communication with our home office in Miami for obvious reasons. When we returned to the port of Miami, the damage included storefront windows blown out in downtown, pieces of debris and roofs all over the place, trees toppled, cars relocated and banged up, buildings damaged, etc... Looting was a issue, and the National Guard came in to patrol downtown. Our ship stayed in port for about 1 week as a floating hotel to help company employees who lost their homes to the SOUTH. Many of us helped with the cleanup. The company had a private island in the bahamas that was completely demolished. It was a couple of months before the ships could return there.

My advice is to evacuate if you are in the path of a category 4-5 hurricane. If you cannot leave, get to a shelter.

I live in Punta Gorda and went through Charley last year. I grew up in Florida and have always played arond in storms but the difference between a cat 3 and cat 4 is HUGE! The biggest difference is the size of the the debis.I seen concrete structures crushed and 70 year old frames houses unscathed. Every power pole in my neighborhood was snapped. Keep in mind the poles went blowing through the houses theat they were next to. cat4 storms suck real bad.
Well, I haven't...but listen to this: My wife was in junior high when the infamous Topeka, Kansas killer F-5 ripped past her just a few blocks away. Then...almost a sick stroke of luck........she was living in Biloxi Mississippi when Hurricane Camille made it's direct hit on Biloxi in '69....with it's 200mph plus winds. She was 6 blocks from shore.
Unfortunately, these two incidents when my wife was younger, scarred her psyche for life. Even in sunny Arizona...when there are enough winds to make the power lines kind of sing...she begins trembling. And if this happens early in the evening....she cannot sleep for even one minute during the night.
Not surprising then, that she really fought me twenty some years ago when I announced that I was going "storm chasing" in the midwest. Just her luck to marry a guy like me, huh? And I've gone chasing every year since, too. Nowadays...she's a lot better about me going....she knows that I take it very seriously, and do it safely. Joel Ewing