Leah Aronowsky at Public Books:
This past August marked 30 years since Hurricane Andrew pummeled the Caribbean and south Florida. On August 23, 1992, Andrew made landfall on the Bahamas’s Eleuthera Island as a Category 5 hurricane. It briefly weakened as it passed over the rest of the Bahamas, but quickly regained intensity. At 5 a.m. the next day, Andrew landed in the Florida Keys—again, as a Category 5 hurricane, with winds sustaining speeds of 165 miles per hour. Andrew leveled entire neighborhoods as it moved across the Florida coast; in Dade County alone, 160,000 people were rendered homeless. For weeks after the storm, thousands of Floridians were left without power, water, telephone connection, or other basic services, while groceries and gas remained in short supply. Andrew quickly became the costliest hurricane in US history, racking up $27 billion—roughly $56 billion in today’s dollars—in damage.
Facing historic losses and payouts, nearly a dozen insurance companies became insolvent in Andrew’s wake. But, in another corner of the insurance world, the storm became a business opportunity.