How Many People Died in Hurricane Andrew?

February 4, 2024

When Hurricane Andrew plowed into southern Florida, it did far more than rip shingles from roofs and shatter glass windows. It displaced residents and triggered an economic slump that would last for months afterward. It destroyed more than 63,500 houses, damaged 124,000 others, and caused $26.5 billion (1992 USD) in damage, making it the second most costly Atlantic hurricane in history at the time—second only to Hurricane Katrina (2005). It also left behind a scarred landscape in the Everglades, which had absorbed the brunt of the storm.

Despite its destructive force, however, the direct death toll from the hurricane was relatively low—only 20 people died as a result of the wind-driven storm. That is significantly lower than the 1,800 killed by Hurricane Katrina and the 6,000 who perished in Hurricane Galveston in 1900.

The reason lies in the multi-component nature of tropical storms and hurricanes — they’re not just about wind. They also involve storm surge and rainfall. In fact, storm surge and flooding are what usually kills the most people during a hurricane.

When it blew ashore in the Bahamas and South Florida, Andrew sucked up a large amount of water, raising coastal elevations by as much as 17 feet. This water, combined with ferocious winds and a powerful tornado, caused massive destruction in the area. It also inflicted heavy damage on the economy, causing significant disruptions to the transport, water, sanitation, and agricultural sectors.


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