Cardinals' first base coach Oliver Marmol was six years old when his family's home was hit hard by Harricane Andrew in 1992. 

By Rob Rains

Watching as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, perhaps headed for his home in Palm Beach Gardens, has brought back a lot of memories for Cardinals’ first base coach Oliver Marmol.

Irma is expected to be the strongest hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida with sustained winds of 165 miles per hour 25 years ago, killing 65 people.

Marmol was six years old then, and talked Friday about how he and his family rode out that 1992 storm huddled together in a bedroom closet of their home in Miami.

“There was eight of us, my grandparents, my parents and my three older brothers and we held out in the master bedroom closet,” Marmol said. “It was interesting. You could hear all the windows blow out, you could hear the wind rushing through the house flipping things over.

“I remember my dad and my grandfather taking turns holding the door from flying open and it seemed like it lasted for hours, them going back and forth taking turns. I remember at one point my dad looking over and saying, ‘If this doesn’t end soon we’re done.’”

Two to three inches of water collected on the floor of the closet, and the family didn’t know how high the water was going to rise.

“It was every bit of scary,” Marmol said. “You know that’s not normal. Nobody was freaking out, everybody was pretty calm. My parents and brothers did a good job to make sure nobody was too scared. At my age I felt they had it under control.

“I remember we had a break when the storm was over the top of us and we walked outside and went to the restroom and got back in the closet. When it was over we walked back outside and as far as you could see fences were down, houses, it was a different look for sure.”

Marmol said his home was not destroyed but was heavily damaged and the effects lingered for a long time.

“We lived in it for a little bit longer and then lived in a trailer in front of the house that they brought over for us to live in,” he said. “I remember my brother was sleeping on the couch and got up and three minutes later the roof over the couch fell on top of the couch. He had just walked into the kitchen. At that point we knew we needed to get out of the house.”

Marmol is worried about his house and not being in Florida when Irma makes landfall, most likely early Sunday, but he and wife Amber – expecting their first child any day – have had help from friends who were able to board up their house and try to prepare it as best they could for the storm.

The house is about three miles from the beach.

“God is in control, whatever’s going to happen is going to happen,” Marmol said. “Hopefully the house will be there, but there’s nothing we can do. We’ve done everything as far as preparation for it, now we just sit and wait.”

Marmol has seen on television the long lines of traffic trying to evacuate the area, and has heard the stories of gas and water shortages – problems he is thankful to avoid. His friends are remaining in the area and promised to keep Marmol updated.

The Cardinals’ Jupiter complex is just a few miles from Marmol’s home, and it has been closed after employees did their best to protect it from the storm. John Mozeliak, the team’s president of baseball operations, said anybody who wanted to leave the area was allowed to go but some people elected to remain in their homes.

Three Cardinals’ players have homes in the Jupiter area; Yadier Molina, Lance Lynn and Kolten Wong.

Marmol does not recall why his parents chose to remain in their home during Andrew instead of evacuating. He does not have any family members currently living in south Florida.

It was what he saw after that hurricane that prompted Marmol to become involved in community service and charity work as he grew older.

“I remember standing in line at the Red Cross and these people were giving their time and energy and money to make sure that we had a meal for the day while we were going through all this stuff,” he said. “I sat there and I watched these people doing what they were doing and it really left an imprint on my heart about what it looks like to make sacrificial gifts; whether it’s with your time, money or different resources.

“I was able to experience it and be on that end of it. Ever since then I’ve made it a point if we have the chance to do anything, that’s part of our responsibility.”

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains