HEATHER WALK CONDOMINIUM INCORPORATED
The hurricane that changed Heather Walk history - August 24, 1992
Hurricane seasons come and go every year usually without much
incident: until Hurricane Andrew showed up on August 24, 1992.

This image from NOAA is Hurricane Andrew one day before landfall:
it started as a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa on August 14.

10 days later the hurricane made landfall near Homestead in the
early morning hours (thereabout 3 am) of August 24.

Here are a two facts to help grasp the magnitude of its devastation.

The hurricane caused over $10 billion in insured residential damage
destroying 25,524 homes and damaging another 101,240.

Hurricane Andrews winds were thought to be 145 miles per hour at
its height,  but the data was revisited in 2002 and determined to be
165 miles per hour. This increased the hurricanes previous ranking
from a Category 4 to a Category 5.
What you are about to read is just how destructive Hurricane Andrew was at Heather Walk
(tracking video)

Leading during a crisis sometimes means making some decisions that unit owners likely will not be aware of.
A public insurance adjusters company arrived via a red helicopter that landed adjacent to Heather Walk next to the Florida Power & Light switch yard. During discussions with the adjusters the board realized that the insurance claim could be millions of dollars. With that in mind the board declined there offer, an offer which typically charges 20% of the payout. If the board had accepted their offer and based on the $8,370,437 insurance claim it potentially would have cost $1,674,087, paid for by unit owners through a special assessment not the insurance company. That decision not to contract with the adjusters by the Heather Walk Board avoided what would have been the largest ever special assessment to date. Likely assessment of $1,674,087 would equal $2,847,475 today.

Through that time period residents witnessed destruction that had never been seen before and there were hardships the people had to endure. It took six weeks for electricity to be restored, that meant of the street lights that were left standing did light up, not that your unit was inhabitable, some were, many were not.

There were units with no interior walls because the wind had pushed them away, one unit had a ceiling fan eerily spinning with broken fan blades, others units had ceilings that had fallen from the deluge of leaked water and some just had the openness of the roof truss with a view of the sky. This type of damage was typical of the units at Heather Walk.

Even if you could live in your unit there was no air conditioning and with broken windows came the mosquitos. People who did stay could not watch television because Adelphia Cable now known as Comcast did not restore cable TV until February 1993.

Not one building was spared, lets now begin with the clubhouse:
When inspecting the clubhouse for damage the most obvious damage was not blown out windows, it was the first floor pool of water inside the clubhouse. That pool of water was about two feet deep because the clubhouse floor was not as it is today (level), no, it had a sunken floor plan much like the popular sunken living rooms of the 1960's only the clubhouse was more in the area of two feet deep. During its restoration the floor was filled in and tiled over. So the next time you're in the clubhouse look at the floor carefully and you will see a crack almost in the shape of a semicircle from where the floor later settled.

Prior to the storm board members of the day held their meetings in the lower level of the first floor which was referred to as 'the pit'.



Board members meet monthly in the clubhouse. That is how it went from when the clubhouse was competed until July 1992. In August of 1992 Hurricane Andrew changed that for many months to follow. With the clubhouse unusable and the residents desperately seeking help, meetings were held outdoors at the satellite lot to distribute information as it became available to board members but at times there just was no new information. As it was power was down, phone service was sparse and Heather Walk was not the only insured by the associations insurance company which at the $4 million point stopped making payments to pay the associations general contractor, the associations lawyers became involved to litigate against the insurance company, and add to that five residents decided to hire there own attorneys and sue the association which in turn pitted some owners against each other.

The September meetings involving the residents were especially difficult since their questions were many and tempers flared because nobody likes to pay their maintenance fee when their unit is being scheduled for repairs two to 10 months out, after all its impossible to repair 240 units simultaneously. In the end 13 months later Heather Walk was complete less the landscape, that came two years later.

Landscaping prompted by Hurricane Andrew.
After Hurricane Andrew devastated Heather Walk in 1992 the property was rebuilt through 1993 and landscaped during 1994 and 1995 with the planting of 270 palm trees of the Sabal Palm, Queen Palm variety. This is the biggest landscape project undertaken at Heather Walk to date at a cost of $26,000 or $96 per tree installed. The majority of the palm trees you see today are the ones that were planted then.

Start here, finish then repeat courtesy of Hurricane Andrew:
Nearly twenty years after Heather Walk was built a decision was made in January of 1992 to repair but mostly replace the mansards. This project was completed in June of 1992. In August of 1992 Hurricane Andrew dealt a severe blow to Heather Walk including extensive roof and mansard damage. As you may have guessed a decision was made to repair but mostly replace the mansards - again. Total for mansards n/a, roof - $312,590.

Its all about timing:
As part of an agreement between the association and then Dade County to permit the construction of the gate house, the county would be relieved of and the association would assume, the responsibility of maintaining the storm drains, roads, and sidewalks within the fenced in areas of the condominium.

Since the agreement (signed 1991) was in effect before Hurricane Andrew (1992) felled the Australian Pines damaging the sidewalk (located south side of 138 street) is why the county will not make the repairs. As well the insurance company refused to take responsibility.

Most of the damage occurred this way; the trees where blown over and uprooted, it was the roots that had grown under the sidewalk that lifted up and severely cracked the concrete.

It was estimated to remove and replace the entire length would cost about $50,000 and at that point owners just wanted their condominium put back together and not a special assessment and that was the end of that conversation.

Unprecedented destruction and hardship:
Hurricane Andrew took a heavy toll on Heather Walk causing $8,370,437 in damage, equivalent to $14,159,700 today according to the Consumer Price Indexes, CPI CPI. On average $34,876 was spent per unit, equivalent to $58,997 today. The average includes roofs, mansards, clubhouse, pools and other common elements. The impact of the storm was long lasting, the constructions crews and there were many, began renovations on September 17, 1992 and finished one year later in September 1993.