Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Images after 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane: Lake Worth's City Hall, Masonic Temple, Lake Worth Bridge. . .

Read the entire comment left by Capt. Wm. S. Stafford (Ret.) below. Very interesting. He also references the sobering Lloyd's of London report on the Herbert Hoover Dike which surrounds Lake Okeechobee:

"Much of the geophysical history of that time period are still visible around the lake. In 2003 I spent 2 days in my Jeep Wrangler driving the circumference of the lake looking for and finding the historic structures (ie old wooden navigation locks, parts of the old levee system, and places where entire towns / villages were washed away, the cemeteries of those taken by the storm, etc.). A visit to the museum in Belle Glade, seeing the memorial statue outside the Belle Glade library, and driving thru Pahokee trying to visualize the damage 75 years before was hard to imagine."

A "house tossed like a football", flooded streets, and Lake Ave. with devastated structures are some of the images below. The traditional start of hurricane season is June 1st and peaks from mid-August to late October.

The 1928 Hurricane was a direct hit on cities such as Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Lantana. This was prior to hurricanes being given names. The storm continued towards Lake Okeechobee. In the end over 2,500 people died and this storm remains the second deadliest in U.S. history.

There is a mass grave in West Palm Beach for victims of that storm. Another sad legacy is only Black people are buried there. The White victims were buried elsewhere.
Click images to enlarge.




Pictures courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

2 comments:

Capt. Wm. S. Stafford MSc. said...

The Palm Beach County Museum has a written dissertation of the Stafford experience as it relates to this storm.

The Weather Channel also has a listing of this, as well as local media.
Oprah Winfrey bankrolled a movie titled 'Their Eyes Were Watching God', based on the book by Nora Thurston (Houston), which documents the onset and event of the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane.

All hurricanes around the lake afterwards were measured by the force and death toll of this one storm. According to Lawrence E. Will in his book 'Okeechobee Hurricane & the Hoover Dike', winds at Canal Point hit 160 mph before the anometer was blown away by a larger gust of wind. Chunks of muck the size of cars became airborne.

The books documenting the storm are contained in 'BLack Cloud' and 'Killer 'cane', which fills in a lot of the gaps of this particular storm's history.

Much of the geophysical history of that time period are still visible around the lake. In 2003 I spent 2 days in my Jeep Wrangler driving the circumference of the lake looking for and finding the historic structures (ie old wooden navigation locks, parts of the old levee system, and places where entire towns / villages were washed away, the cemeteries of those taken by the storm, etc.). A visit to the museum in Belle Glade, seeing the memorial statue outside the Belle Glade library, and driving thru Pahokee trying to visualize the damage 75 years before was hard to imagine.

Imagination aside, there is still a very real danger that the levee / dike can still be severely eroded and then breached from below as well as from the lake side by a Cat 5 storm arriving, and then slowing down in forward speed or even stalling over the area while maintaining a Cat 4 status over land. We saw this Cat 4 status during Hurricanes Donna in '61 and Andrew in '92; they still sucked-up warm water not from the ocean, but from the Everglades, & hence it never really lost it's power. The sub-vortices generated from such high winds devastated areas south of Miami, similar to the 1926 storm which actually started the Great Depression when investors pulled out of south Florida and leaving the banks with defaulter mortgages after seeing what a hurricane can really do.

Lloyds of London fully understands the risk. Hence, a top priority would be to install a reinforced concrete-walled spine inside the levee / dike itself, and we read that this is what is now being installed (or a similar system like it...). In the meantime, homewoners around the lake should insure that they have both flood and wind protection insurance policies, or rider clauses in their policy conditions.

Not a matter of if, but when...

Capt. Wm. S. Stafford MSc (Retired) said...

I stand corrected; the novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' was written by Zora Neale Hurston, in 1937.

If one is searching or entertaining the idea of living in Florida for any duration, then you need to read this book, in addition to 'Okeechobee Hurricane & the Hoover Dike', 'Black Cloud' and 'Killer 'Cane' so that one understands that hurricane damage can be minimized with high wind building codes, warnings to evacuate, and advisories to check emergency supplies.

Quite a number of locally-produced You Tube videos are also available on-line.

But the serious essence of any hurricane can never be fully erased.