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Lake Okeechobee, FL Thousands Die In Hurricane, Sep 1928




West Palm Beach, Fla., Sept. 19 (AP) -- HOWARD SELBY, chairman of the Palm Beach County Red Cross organization, told a conference of relief workers this morning that to date bodies of 200 persons, victims of the hurricane had been buried in the local cemeteries.
The bodies, half of them of white persons, came from the region about Lake Okeechobee, SELBY said.

Conditions Extreme.
"Conditions in the stricken area are growing worse every minute," SELBY said. "About 8,000 persons in the lake region are in desperate need of clothing, food and medical aid."
"They have been standing in water for hours and hours and there are a number of cases of double pneumonia. There are about 1,000 homeless in the county."
"The estimated damage of Palm Beach County, place yesterday at $25,000,000, now is nearer $30,000,000."

Sanitation Terrible.
"Sanitation conditions in the lake regions are terrible," SELBY said. "Although conditions along the coast are fairly good. In the lake region, two companies of state national guard troops arrived last night and are on duty. The sections around Pakokee and Canal Point, are under military control."
"Clothing especially, shoes, are badly needed."

Boats Inadequate
Sheriff BOB BAKER of Palm Beach County and a squad of deputies who went to Pahokee, Canal Point and South Bay to bring in needs of the the storm victims said on their return today that the outboard motor boats in which they went were "wholly inadequate" to meet their needs. The sheriff said a sea skiff would be taken into the area today, stationed at strategic point as a base of operations and that motor boats would bring the dead to the skiff. He said most of the dead were negroes.
Relief workers have sent emergency supplies in boats to the lake area. Coast guard rum chasers have gone up New river from the base of Fort Lauderdale to aid in the rescue and relief work.
Some bodies have been taken to Fort Pierce for burial. Reports reaching relief headquarters here said.
SELBY said he had received very few reports of looting in the stricken areas in this county and elsewhere.

Okeechobee City, Fla., Sept. 19 (AP) -- National guardsmen and civilians continued the work today of searching for bodies around the north shore of Lake Okeechobee, where the tropical disturbance struck Sunday night, while Red Cross workers, military forces and citizens continued rehabilitation the town, begun on Monday morning as early as it was possible to muster forces.
Four Red Cross workers under temporary direction of MRS. F. B. MOSS, of Washington, D. C., have thoroughly organized all relief work to eliminate duplication. A trained field representative from Washington was expected today to take charge of the section around the lake while A. L. SCHAFER, also of Washington, with 10 field workers was reported to be enroute to West Palm Beach this morning, to have charge of relief work around that city.

Streets Patrolled.
Military forces here are under command of Major ROGER LYLE, of Bartowl. They are patrolling the streets, caring for the dead and combing the saw grass for additional bodies.
The first complete relief train, from Haines City, reached here last night with food, clothing, medical supplies and equipment. West Palm Beach, badly damaged, was one of the first cities to respond to calls for aid. Officials there said they had little, but they would gladly share it with other needy people.
There is an ample supply of food here, but bedding, clothing and mattresses are desired. Additional medical supplies including serum of various kinds are sought to prevent disease.



My grandfather

Arlan was also my grandfather - the father of my father who was 10 years old and who was with his mother and 3 siblings in a concrete building (he was oldest of the great uncles of which you speak). Your great grandfather / my grandfather was actually trying to save this other family - some of whom perished - by placing them in the attic of a house which later was washed off the foundation and crashed into a church building. The oldest daughter who actually survived, told the story later to my father and grandmother. If you want to know what she said, e-mail me and I will share all that with you - Just heard the story again this weekend while visiting with my 94 year old father.

Grandfather survived this storm

My grandfather survived this great storm. He was in Belle Glade farming beans for another man. When the storm hit he managed to get to a tree and climb to the top. After the storm he moved back to the North Florida panhandle and never came south again. He refused to talk about the storm or the times after it was over. Until the day he died if a thunder storm or bad rain storm came over the house he would always get everybody to the center of the house for safety. He never got over the fear of bad weather from then on.

you are welcome

You are most welcome. And I thank you for sharing your story on this tragedy, which is surprisingly not remembered in many parts of the United States.
God Bless

My great-grandfather...

...drowned in the 1928 hurricane. His name was Arlan Woodham. He had gone to Belle Glade to work and earn money for his family; he left my grandfather, great-grandmother, and my two great-uncles and great-aunt behind in Frostproof, Florida, planning to send for them when he had enough money for a homestead. Sadly, that never happened. He was staying with a family there, and every member of the family drowned with him except for the two youngest girls who escaped death by clinging to tree branches when the waters rose. Their story was actually featured in an issue of "Reader's Digest." He was loved very much by my grandfather, who told me so many stories of him and how kind he was when I was little that I, despite never having met him, love him too.

I was in a boating accident in 1997 in which I almost drowned. I thought of my great-grandfather then, and have never forgotten those feelings. It's almost unbearable to think of what he must've gone through then.

Thank you for remembering the victims of this terrible tragedy. Even though it was 80 years ago, they still have relatives who care.

article | by Dr. Radut