Hurricane of 1928 Mass Burial Site
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Rangergirl141
N 26° 44.170 W 080° 03.719
17R E 593284 N 2957557
Quick Description: After the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, the bodies of hundreds of African Americans were taken to West Palm Beach and buried in an unmarked mass grave in the city's pauper cemetery. In 2000, the property was reacquired by the city, to memorialize the tragedy.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 10/28/2009 7:22:04 AM
Waymark Code: WM7HMQ
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member paintfiction
Views: 24

Long Description:
On September 16, 1928, a hurricane came ashore near the Jupiter Lighthouse and traveled West across Palm Beach County to Lake Okeechobee. This deadly hurricane destroyed hundreds of building and left millions of dollars in property damage. Many of the 1,800 to 3,000 fatalities occurred when the Lake Okeechobee dike collapsed, flooding the populated South side of the lake. Approximately 1,600 victims were buried in a mass grave in Port Mayaca in Martin County. In West Palm Beach, 69 white victims were placed in a mass grave in Woodlawn Cemetery and approximately, 674 black victims were buried in a mass grave in the city's pauper's burial field at Tamarind Avenue and 25th Street. Many others were never found. On September 30, 1928, the City proclaimed an hour of mourning for the victim's, with memorial rites conducted simultaneously at each of the burial sites. Two thousand persons attended the ceremonies at the pauper's cemetery, where noted black educator ans activist Mary McLoed Bethune (1875-1955) read the Mayor's proclamation. The mass grave at Woodlawn Cemetery was subsequently identified by a marker. This burial site was not again recognized until 1991, when a Yoruba (Nigerian religious) ceremony was held here.

Coastal damage in Florida near the point of landfall was catastrophic. Miami, well south of the point of landfall, escaped with very little damage; Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale suffered only slight damages. In Fort Lauderdale, numerous power lines and telephone wires were downed. Northward, from Pompano Beach to Jupiter, buildings suffered serious damage from the heavy winds and 10 ft (3 m) storm surge, which was heaviest in the vicinity of Palm Beach; total coastal damages were estimated as "several million" dollars. In West Palm Beach, more than 1,711 homes were destroyed, while the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse's mortar was reportedly "squeezed toothpaste" between the bricks during the storm, swaying the tower seventeen inches off the base. Because of well-issued hurricane warnings, residents were prepared for the storm, and the number of lives lost in the coastal Palm Beach area was only 26.

Inland, the hurricane wreaked much more widespread destruction along the more heavily populated coast of Lake Okeechobee. Residents had been warned to evacuate the low ground earlier in the day, but after the hurricane did not arrive on schedule, many thought it had missed and returned to their homes. When the worst of the storm crossed the lake—with winds measured on the ground at around 140 mph (225 km/h)—the south-blowing wind caused a storm surge to overflow the small dike that had been built at the south end of the lake. The resulting flood covered an area of hundreds of square miles with water that in some places was over 20 ft (6 m) deep. Houses were floated off of their foundations and dashed to pieces against any obstacle they encountered. Most survivors and bodies were washed out into the Everglades where many of the bodies were never found. As the rear eyewall passed over the area, the flood reversed itself, breaking the dikes along the northern coast of the lake and causing a similar but smaller flood.

Floodwaters persisted for several weeks, greatly impeding attempts to clean up the devastation. Burial services were quickly overwhelmed, and many of the bodies were placed into mass graves. Around 75% of the fatalities were migrant farm workers, making identification of both dead and missing bodies very difficult; as a result of this, the count of the dead is not very accurate. The Red Cross estimated the number of fatalities as 1,836, which was taken as the official count by the National Weather Service for many years (and exactly equal to the official count for Hurricane Katrina). Older sources usually list 3,411 as the hurricane's total count of fatalities, including the Caribbean. However, in 2003 the U.S. death count was revised as "at least" 2,500, making the Okeechobee hurricane the second-deadliest natural disaster in United States history behind the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. A mass grave at the Port Mayaca Cemetery east of Port Mayaca contains the bodies of 1,600 victims of the hurricane.

Thousands of people were left homeless in Florida; property damage was estimated at $25 million ($250 million in 2008 US dollars). It is estimated if a similar storm were to strike as of the year 2003, it would cause $18.7 billion in damages. The cyclone remains one of three Atlantic hurricanes to strike the southern mainland of Florida with a central pressure below 940 mbar (27.76 inHg), the others being the 1926 Miami hurricane and Hurricane Andrew of 1992.

**Information about the hurricane was gathered from Wikipedia**
(visit link)
Marker Number: F-450

Date: 2001

County: Palm Beach

Marker Type: Roadside

Sponsored or placed by: The City of West Palm Beach and the Florida Department of State

Website: [Web Link]

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