AP Was There: Hurricane heads for Florida coast
MIAMI (AP) — The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, which hit the Florida Keys, was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States, based on barometric pressure. The hurricane killed 408 people and was one of the 10 deadliest storms in U.S. history.
The Associated Press was there and published this story on Sept. 2, 1935.
The fury of a tropical storm beat across the Florida keys tonight and as it whirled northwestward the entire southern tip of the peninsula was warned of possible hurricane winds.
Citizens of Key West breathed a sigh of relief as the storm center moved to the northward of the island city but those in mainland cities and towns all the way around the coast from West Palm Beach to Carrabelle on the Gulf hastily took precautions.
An advisory at 10 p.m. placed the center of the disturbance near Matacumbe key, about fifty miles north of Key West and seventy-five miles southwest of Miami. A lighthouse keeper at Alligator key, seventy-five miles northeast of Key West, reported a sustained wind of eighty miles an hour swept the keys in that vicinity around 9 p.m.
Little Damage Known
Only minor damage reports had been received. No word had come from Matacumbe where a special railway train went late today to remove 700 veterans engaged in highway construction there.
The dispatcher’s office was inclined to believe the train had reached its destination, but was halted there by the storm. Railway telegraph and telephone lines were down south of Homestead.
Traffic confusion caused of number of automobile collisions in Miami and a five-story construction elevator was blown over at Miami Beach, without damage to adjacent property. Small debris was being blown about in several cities and towns in the southern area, mostly from trees and shrubbery.
Two Boys Saved
Hugh O’Neal, fifty, was taken to a hospital here when he suffered cuts from a wind-blown plank.
Two boys, Don and Harold Summers, marooned on a small island in Biscayne bay here, were rescued by the marine ambulance Philcris as they clung to coconut palms to avoid being washed away by the huge waves.
They had gone into the bay this afternoon in an auxiliary powered sailboat but the motor failed when a wave slapped the side of the craft. The boys, fourteen and fifteen years old, managed to reach the island and tied their shirts to the upper fronds of the palm trees to attract attention.
Some resident of Everglades, on the West coast, left for Fort Myers until the passage of the storm.
The disturbance was described by the weather bureau as of full hurricane intensity but rather small in diameter, moving northwestward.
Northeast storm warnings were ordered from West Palm Beach northward to Titusville on the Atlantic coast and from Punta Gorda to Carrabelle on the west.
Within the area where hurricane warnings were up are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach with its sister resort city, Palm Beach, Everglades, Naples, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, Venice, Hollywood, Homestead and other localities which form the bulk of southern Florida’s famous resort centers.
Commenting on the latest advisory, extending the hurricane danger zone, weather bureau officials said the present storm cannot be compared with the great hurricanes of 1926 and 1928. The hurricane area is much smaller and the winds are of far less velocity, they said.
In 1926 a hurricane hit the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area with devastating effect, claiming upwards of 500 lives, while around 2,000 were estimated to have died on the shores of Lake Okeechobee when the 1928 storm ravaged West Palm Beach and tore across the unprotected lakeside towns of the interior.