Lake Okeechobee, FL Thousands Die In Hurricane, Sep 1928

By T. R. Gill
(Associated Press Staff Writer)
West Palm Beach, Fla. Sept. 19. -- Graphic eye-witness stories of death and privation in the Backwoods region around the Great Lake Okeeshobee in southern Florida were brought here today by injured and destitute persons living in that region.
Thrilling stories of escapes were told by all refugees who were brought here by the Red Cross for medical treatment, lodging or food.

Dike Broke.
D. H. WALKER, a farmer of South Bay who escaped with his wife and five children said the dike broke about 11 p.m. Sunday sending a wall of water through South Bay to a depth of eight feet. His house was washed away and he and his family sought refuge on a house boat where approximately, 150 other persons were lodged. He said he saw many persons unable to get to the house boat holding to driftwood. He counted 22 bodies tied to trees with rope by rescue workers to keep them from floating away. Practically all the territory in that section was under water, he said.

Homes Blown Away.
L. A. HARGRAVES who formerly lived at Memphis, Tenn., and who has been farming in the section between Belle Glade and Pahokee, said he ran from his home when it started to collapse. He sought refuge in another home only to leave it again when it too was being blown away. He ran to a third house where two white men and ten negroes had sought refuge. When it started to collapse he crawled a quarter of a mile on his hands and knees to a tall rubber tree. When he climbed to the top he found a negro man and his wife clinging to a top limb. Shorty afterward he said he saw the house containing the two white men and the negroes washed away when the dike broke. He never saw the occupants of the house again.

Water Rose Rapidly.
Water around the tree arose about nine feet in thirty minutes, he related. He and the two negroes were rescued the next morning and brought here for treatment.
The names of the white men in the house were HORACE REDDING, 25, and his brother-in-law, HARRISON ROBERTS, 21, HARGRAVES reported.
CARROLL WINEGARDNER of Boynton, a dairy worker, was injured about the head when the dairy house in which he and his family and several other workers had sought shelter gave way. His father and mother, MR. and MRS. C. M. WINEGARDNER were seriously injured and brought to a refugee camp here.

The Kingsport Times Tennessee 1928-09-19
(TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: The actual number of fatalities from this disastrous hurricane will over ever by know to God. The estimated totals run from 2,500 to 3,500 in Florida alone. This would rank 2nd only to the Galveston Hurricane, in number of casualties. )


The Okeechobee hurricane, also known as San Felipe Segundo hurricane and The Forgotten Storm, was one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in the history of Puerto Rico. The fourth tropical cyclone, third hurricane, and only major hurricane of the 1928 season, this system developed just offshore the west coast of Africa on September 6. Initially a tropical depression, it strengthened into a tropical storm later that day, shortly before passing south of the Cape Verde Islands. Further intensification was slow and halted by late on September 7. About 48 hours later, the storm resumed strengthening and became a Category 1 hurricane on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. Still moving westward, the system reached Category 4 intensity before striking Guadeloupe on September 12. There, the storm brought "great destruction" and 1,200 deaths. The islands of Martinique, Montserrat, and Nevis also reported damage and fatalities, but not nearly as severe as in Guadeloupe.



1928 hurricane

Trying to find casualty list for this hurricane. Trying to find out if Mr. HH Jones and his wife Carrie were killed in this storm. No record of them exists after 1919 and they were supposedly traveling in Florida with his job. (Salesman, never heard from again, supposedly lost in this hurricane or the one in 1926.) Help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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.