Tim Padgett

Americas editor

Tim Padgett is WLRN-Miami Herald News' Americas correspondent covering Latin America and the Caribbean from Miami. He has covered Latin America for almost 25 years, for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief from 1990 to 1996, and for Time as its Latin America bureau chief, first in Mexico from 1996 to 1999 and then in Miami, where he also covered Florida and the U.S. Southeast, from 1999 to 2013.

Padgett has interviewed more than 20 heads of state, including former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and he was one of the few U.S. correspondents to sit down with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during his 14-year rule. He has reported on, and written cover articles about, every major Latin American and Caribbean story from NAFTA, the Cuban economic collapse and Colombian civil war of the 1990s to the Brazilian boom, Venezuelan revolution and Mexican drug-war carnage of the 2000s. In 2005, Padgett received Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest international award in journalism, for his body of work from the region. His 1993 Newsweek cover, “Cocaine Comes Home,” won the Inter-American Press Association’s drug-war coverage award.

A U.S. native from Indiana, Padgett received his bachelor’s degree in 1984 from Wabash College as an English major. He was an intern reporter at Newsday in 1982 and 1983. In 1985 Padgett received a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School before studying in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He started his professional journalism career in 1985 at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he led the newspaper’s coverage of the 1986 immigration reform. In 1988 he joined Newsweek in its Chicago bureau. Padgett has also written for publications such as The New Republic and America, and he has been a frequent analyst on CNN, Fox and NPR, as well as Spanish-language networks such as Univision.

Padgett has been an adult literacy volunteer since 1989. He currently lives in Miami with his wife and two children. 

Ways to Connect

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Standing outside his church in Palmetto Bay on Sunday, Jesus Figueroa listened intently to information coming across his iPhone from Puerto Rico on Zello. The walkie-talkie app transmits messages on group channels when cell phone service is a challenge – and in Puerto Rico right now it’s an epic ordeal.

United Nations

Before he was president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís was a professor at Florida International University. He had a homecoming on Friday when he spoke at FIU on topics like climate change and the future of Venezuelan democracy. 

Solís was a Fulbright professor at FIU at the turn of the century, researching Latin American issues. After addressing the U.N. general assembly this week, Solís came to talk at FIU’s Main Campus about those same concerns.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Puerto Rico woke up Thursday morning to catastrophic damage and flooding after Hurricane Maria. The major storm roared across the Caribbean island on Wednesday, and the devastation – especially power outages – is island-wide.

National Hurricane Center

COMMENTARY

I’ll confess I said something rather stupid during Hurricane Irma.

As the monster storm drove westward, a colleague checked his tracker app and said it would clip Cuba. Without thinking I blurted, “That’s good news.” Not because I wanted a hurricane to hit Cuba. I just reasoned if Irma’s less dangerous left side grazed Cuba’s mountains, it might drop heavy rain on the island but it might also disrupt the hurricane.

As in: weaken it before it hit Florida. As in: before it hit my house.

National Hurricane Center

There is dangerous déjà vu in the Caribbean right now as Hurricane Maria begins tearing across the islands – just two weeks after Hurricane Irma did. And the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are girding for an especially hard hit on Wednesday.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Growing up in Miami, Luis Gazitúa lived through Hurricane Andrew in 1992 – one of the most destructive storms ever to hit South Florida. That’s why the Coconut Grove attorney recognized the awful danger of Hurricane Irma.

Irma was even bigger and stronger than Andrew. So when early forecast models this month showed it heading straight for Miami, Gazitúa and his family decided to evacuate South Florida.

“We had actually booked rooms in Orlando,” Gazitúa says at his law office in Coral Gables. “My father, my brother, our children and our wives and my mother.”

Government of Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda was the first country to greet Hurricane Irma’s more than 185-mile-per-hour winds - the fiercest Atlantic storm ever recorded. Speaking from the capital of St. John’s on Antigua island, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the destruction the island of Barbuda suffered is also historic. Only one person died on Barbuda, but Browne noted the place is now a “ghost town.”

“For the first time in 300 years, Barbuda is uninhabited," Browne told WLRN.

Joel Rouse / AP via Miami Herald

Atlantic hurricanes rarely leave the Caribbean unscathed. The basin is like a bowling alley for storms and the islands its pins. Hurricane Irma – which left at least 36 people dead in the Caribbean last week, including 10 in Cuba, before roaring into Florida on Sunday – was an outsize bowling ball, setting strength records as it crashed into the Leeward Islands on the basin’s eastern fringe.

Eric Gay / AP via Miami Herald

Two days ago – when Hurricane Irma was forecast to hit Miami directly as a Category 5 storm – Miami-Dade County was staring at a potential storm surge of 10 feet. Now that Irma’s path has shifted west to Florida’s Gulf coast, the surge is expected to be half that.

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is warning that’s still enough to cause not just dangerous flooding but drowning – especially since South Florida may well experience the equivalent of Category 1 or 2 hurricane winds when Irma arrives early Sunday.

Virginia Aponte / Courtesy

After killing more than 20 people across the Caribbean this week, Hurricane Irma ravaged Cuba’s northern coast Friday night and Saturday morning – and may hammer Havana before it moves into the Florida Straits headed for the Keys on Sunday.

“The television pictures we’re seeing from the middle coast are very bad,” Havana resident Carlos Caridad told WLRN Saturday afternoon. “Housing and building construction out there is not as good as it is here, and we’re seeing a lot of wrecked houses in places like Camagüey [province].”

David Santiago / Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and other South Florida government leaders have an emphatic message for residents this afternoon: a hurricane is still visiting you tonight and tomorrow.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Hurricane Irma is still forecast to hit South Florida Sunday morning as a destructive Category 4 storm. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has ordered the largest mandatory evacuation for a hurricane in the county's history – some 660,000 people. And that also means South Florida’s largest-ever hurricane shelter response.

This post was updated on Sept. 10, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.  

As Hurricane Irma slams into the Florida Keys and brings hurricane-force winds and storm surges to South Florida, residents are hunkered down in emergency shelters. And while some shelters have closed their doors for the most dangerous storm conditions, you should still know what your evacuation zone is and where to go.

Pages