Lake O Hurricane of 1928

Dated: 06/18/2019

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By September 1928, the real estate boom in Florida was beginning to fade.  The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 had frightened many new residents when they realized how vulnerable their homes were when a hurricane hit.   The Miami hurricane caused flood waters from Lake Okeechobee to enter the city of Moore Haven, killing over 100 people.

 At this time, the area around the lake was growing rapidly as the rich black soil was being used for agriculture.  The town of Belle Glade was becoming a farming community dependent on migrant labor to plow and harvest crops along the shore of the lake.

 A short two years after the Great Miami Hurricane, another category 4 storm was forming off the coast of Africa.  In early September 1928, the storm began moving towards the Caribbean devasting the island of Guadeloupe and then moving through the Virgin Islands and hitting Puerto Rico, killing more than 300 people on the island.  By September 14, the storm was moving through the Bahamas and heading towards the east coast of Florida.  At 6:15 PM on September 16, the hurricane made landfall between Jupiter and Boca Raton.

A storm surge of 10-20 feet damaged buildings all along Palm Beach County.  However, the greatest threat to human life was inland around Lake Okeechobee where the strong winds piled the water up at the south end of the lake.  The pressure was too much for the mud levee, which toppled over allowing the water to rush out of the lake and onto the fields.  Thousands of migrant farm workers were drowned as the water reached several feet high spreading over an area 6 miles deep and 75 miles long around the south end of the lake. 

According to the National Hurricane Center, damage from this hurricane was estimated around 25 million dollars.  The flood waters lasted for several weeks killing over 2,000 people.

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Ellie Bunting

Ellie has returned to real estate sales after spending the last 40 years teaching English at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers She has teamed up with her husband, Bob, who has been a....

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