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The 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew

NPR is doing a special on the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew--a Cat-4 hurricane that smashed up Dade county (Miami) in 1992. I was in the national guard and activated for it. It doesn't seem like "yesterday"--but realizing that was almost half a life-time ago--that I was approximately half the age I am now is sobering.

It was quite an adventure. I had injured my ankle (broken it) in the summer's Annual Training and I had to go out and get a doctor's note to allow me to be deployed. We got to an all night medical center and the guy, without any documentation on my injury, refused to sign. I scrawled something in the form's signature area and went back to the armory and said "I'm good to go!" I went.

We were in a chase with looters in a Humvee, driving over everything in our path. We were running around with night-vision under black-out conditions. I had to arbitrate two guys--one with a car that was parked behind a gas station and he claimed it didn't run. The other guy owned the gas station and claimed the guy was going to steal from him if he was lurking back there in the car. I, Roland Deshane-like, armed with an under-equipped M16, decided to make Mr. Gas Station Owner help push the car to the front and down the street where it would, presumably, no longer be the crime-lair. He said he had a bad heart. I scolwed at him: "Okay--then I'll push it."

He decided to help.

A woman came and got me and another guy and said there was someone in her warehouse. We had to "clear it." There was no back up and no chain of command. We just went in there, room by room, pretending we were like special forces guys with the weapons all choked up so we could jump around corners really fast. I was scared. There was no one in there.

We came across a guy whose bar was trashed. He was grilling all the remaining burgers and handing them out. I ate two.

I got scooped up by a random Lieutenant who thought HE was an action-movie hero. I went around with him--who IS this guy!? Does my unit know where I am?!? Am I supposed to be here!?--looking for "crack houses." He had us assault an almost empty house to look for drugs--totally not our mission. No one was there (they left out the back when we arrived). He had me stand on top of the vehicle with orders to "not let ANYONE touch or approach the vehicle."

People came to tell me they were glad we were here. I voilated orders and let them approach the vehicle so I could tell them we were glad to help. Junior-SOG-guy had like backed it in so he could race out in a hurry when the bad guys showed up. Strangely that never happened.

I remember getting the call from the armory JUST before school started. I didn't even know there was a hurricane in the area. I remember standing dumbfounded when they told me to get my stuff and report immediately. ... but ... but ... I have school tomorrow. I just got all my classes ...

I took that semester off. I worked at a temp place. It was kind of like one really, really long boring summer.