How a Landline Became My Lifeline
In late August 1992, Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 Storm, slammed into South Florida. At the time I was living in the suburban community of Country Walk, just north of Homestead, Florida. My home, along with many others in the community, was totally destroyed by Andrew. The morning after the storm I walked out of the shell that had once been my home with nothing more than the clothes on my back.
As I emerged outside for the first time, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of the devastation. Nothing was spared — trees, utility poles, power lines, vehicles, and homes were all completely obliterated or heavily damaged.
I needed to get word to my friends and family that I was OK. But with so much damage and destruction, and no power, how would I communicate with the outside world? Today most people would no doubt reach for their cell phones and hope they had service. But in 1992, few average people had access to what was still very expensive technology.
Out of desperation and habit, I reached for my landline phone — in 1992 just about every home still had one. I was amazed to hear a dial tone; it was actually working. I didn’t know it at the time, but the reason the landline phone still worked in spite of the complete loss of power was because the phone company was still supplying it with electricity. I saw firsthand that landlines work even during a blackout.
I started to dial so fast that I got the number wrong and had to hang up and start again. When my cousin — who lived further north and had not been affected by Andrew — picked up on the other end, I was so happy I almost started to cry. With this landline I was able to reach out to friends and family to advise them of my condition. I could also obtain critical information about the road and infrastructure damage outside of the most severe impact zone — which I was currently standing in. With these crucial facts, I was able to plan an evacuation. After a few more calls, I agreed to stay with my cousin until I could make more permanent arrangements. The landline literally became my lifeline.