Southern, FL The "Labor Day Hurricane", Sept 1935




Miami, Fla., Sept. 3 -- (AP) -- Leaving more than 100 reported dead in its path through the Florida Keys, a tropical hurricane tonight swept northwestward along the west coast and lashed the resort city of St. Petersburg and Tampa, center of the state's cigar industry.
The reported deaths, most of which lacked confirmation, were said in meager advices received here to have occurred largely in war veterans camps in the Florida Keys.
As the storm, reported with a 100-mile-an-hour velocity at Boca Grande, south of St. Petersburg, whipped into Tampa Bay, three fishermen were reported missing in the gulf and distress flares were seen in the stormy sky out in the gulf.
Most of the communities along the Tampa Bay and gulf waterfront were evacuated late today but grave fears were felt for several thousand persons who usually live in exposed places.
Torrents Of Rain.
With the hurricane winds at St. Petersburg came torrents of rain and most of the city where thousands spend their winters basking in the sunshine was in darkness. Few persons ventured outside the buildings.
Waterfront sections of the city were reported flooded.
Pres. Roosevelt tonight at his Hyde Park, N. Y., home ordered the army, navy and Red Cross to render all possible assistance in the hurricane area and asked Gov. Sholtz if any additional federal aid was needed.
Acting a few hours later on the president's order the navy department at Washington informed commanders of the fifth and sixth naval districts to give assistance and plans were made to aid in rescue work.
The Miami headquarters of the coast guard had received a report 75 war veterans building a long highway along the keys had been killed as the hurricane passed the east coast last night. Three bodies were recovered at Tavernier, on one of the keys and brought here. The following storm victims, suffering from various injuries, were temporarily lodged in the First Baptist Church at Homestead:
N. E. HEWELL of Franklin, Va; H. GAINES of Kansas City, Mo.; W. N. NEPSHA of Minneapolis, and his brother, JOSEPH; HARRY U. BAKER of Washington and FRANK HIGGINS of Youngstown, Ohio.
The 12 beds at Homestead's post-graduate hospital were quickly filled.
The barometer at Boca Grande dropped to 28.80 and torrents of rain fell, but the reports made no mention of property damage.
Broken communications prevented, definite confirmation of the deaths along the keys, except those of the three persons at Tavernier. The bodies were brought here.
Coast Cities Ready.
St. Petersburg and Tampa, the largest cities on the lower west coast, made ready for the approaching storm. The barometer at St. Petersburg was falling steadily. Early tonight there was a 68-mile wind recorded.
The report to the coast guard concerning reported deaths at the Rock Harbor camp was from a radio report and the source was not given.
Rock Harbor is on Plantation Key about 16 miles north of Tavernier on the same island. Upper Matecumbe is the next key in the chain going south. The war veterans were in the camps building a long overseas highway to provide a direct over-water route between Miami and Key West. Permanent camps are situated on the two Matecumbe Keys, one camp temporarily was at Rock Harbor.


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1935 Labor Day Hurricane

This was a horrific event that the Keys will always remember. You can read more about this disaster at