Southern FL The "Labor Day Hurricane," Sept 1935

Mass Burial of Hurricane Victims Cremation of the bodies, Southern Florida Hurricane

Until rescue workers can reach the ragged keys rarther south, belief was expressed by many of them that the heaviest loss of life probably was felt on Matecumbe keys and fishing villages on Plantation key and key Largo.
DR. JOE STEWART, who flew in a Pan-American survey plane over the storm-ridden keys late today, reported by wireless that all except 11 persons at Veterans' Camp No. 5 had perished.
Reports On Camps.
FERA headquarters previously had stated 192 veterans had been stationed at that camp, but that it was possible a number of them were away on leave of absence.
Camp No. 5 and Camp No. 3, located farther south on lower Matecumbe key, have not been reached by foot by rescuers, who have been halted by washouts just south of Camp No. 1, to the north.
The FERA had estimated that 250 veterans were originally located at Camp No. 1, 192 at Camp No. 5 and 241 at Camp No. 3.
"Survivors of Camp 5 numbering 11 are at Camp 3. All others perished. At Camp 3 are 45 known dead, 25 wounded and 75 refugees. Plenty of food and water. Coast guard cutter just arrived."
Pilot ROY KEELER, flying the survey plane, also reported to Pan-American:
"Conditions on keys from Tavernier to Matecumbe most serious. Many dead laid out. Great many people walking around without any shelter at present. Waiting for Red Cross party to return medicine to lower Matecumbe."
That message was timed at 12:40 p. m. (EST).
Horror and Misery.
Heart-rending tales of horror and suffering were brought out of the wind-wrecked keys today by survivors. Typical of them was told by DR. LASSER ALEXANDER, medical examiner at one of the veterans' camps on Matecumbe key.
"I was at Snake Creek Hotel, which was used as a hospital. This collapsed about 10 p. m. with many persons under the ruins. There were about 40 patients in this building, about half of them women and children. Out of this number, there were only seven men and three of four of the women saved."
"When the building toppled over, I was able to walk out through a hole in the wall into about three or four feet of water filled with floating timbers and debris. The wind was about 50 or 60 miles an hour and carried flying timbers that caused most of the casualties."
Graphic Story.
JOSEPH FACTSAU, timekeeper at Camp No. 3, was the only known person to have escaped alive from that camp. He was taken to a Miami hospital for treatment to an injured spine, and told a graphic story of how he saw his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren perish in the storm.
"The building we were placed in lasted only an hour," said FACTSAU, a former army aviator. "I tried to make a human chain from the building to the railroad track to get all the women and children to safety, but I was washed into the gulf by a high wave. I swam back as quickly as I could and reached shore just as the hospital (the Snake Creek Hotel) collapsed. I heard my wife calling my name but I was not able to get to her in time. They were all killed under the ruins."
Investigation Asked.
Congressman J. HARDIN PATERSON said at Lakeland he had wired HARRY L. HOPKINS, federal relief administrator, asking for an investigation of the deaths of war veterans in the keys. He wanted to find out, he said, why the islands were not evacuated when notice was given of the storm's approach.
"They had plenty of notice, and I want to fix the responsibility," MR. PETERSON said.
He said he was asked by ARTHUR R. BORING of Plant City, state commander of the American Legion, to take the action.
Steady rain at Quitman, Ga., heralded the advance of the storm in that vicinity. Greenville, Fla., 30-miles south of there, received high wind and much rain.
Farther north, as far as Beaufort, N. C., residents along the coast boarded up their homes, moved their boats to safest possible harbors and prepared for the storm in the event it should strike there.
Presumably the storm passed into Georgia between Tallahassee and Madison. Once over land, when it encountered trees and other obstacles, the wind gradually diminished in intensity. The weather bureau said points farther north might not get much more than high winds.
Gainesville, Fla., where the State University is located, escaped with only minor damage to trees. A huge pine tree fell on the campus, however, and smashed windows in the engineering building.



1935 Labor Day Hurricane

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