Hurricane lore from 'Great Labor Day Storm of 1935'
As we enter into the peak of the hurricane season, and with a couple of storms swirling around out there in the Atlantic Ocean as we go to print, here’s a bit of history to churn up your hurricane planning thoughts.
Jerry Shell sent in a clipping from the results of the Labor Day storm of Sept. 4, 1935, from a local newspaper.
The Labor Day storm was a brutal beast that tore across the southern part of Florida. It ripped up most of the railroad tracks through the Florida Keys and killed hundreds of people.
In a 1949 report on the storm, it was quoted that, “No anemometer reading of the wind was obtained, but the gradiant formula gives 200- to 250-mph winds…. More than 400 people were killed, most by drowning…. A rescue train that was sent to remove World War I veterans and residents from the Florida Keys, on Sept. 2, 1935, was swept from the tracks by the hurricane and the storm wave.”
Here’s the comments from the Sept. 4, 1935, local paper. The writing was a bit more flavorful back then, wasn’t it?
“Gale winds sweeping the Bradenton area throughout a night that was made fitful by their blasts and the sheet-like rain that accompanied the blow collected a heavy damage toll in wrecked homes, twisted signs, broken windows, stripped and broken trees, sunk boats, destroyed communication and current [we now call this power, by the way] facilities and washed out streets and highways.
“Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria, exposed to the open Gulf from whence the hurricane came, saw the highest winds although they were estimated to have attained a velocity of 75 mph or more in the city. Reliable reports from the beach, where volunteer lifeguards worked, said practically all cottages were damaged to a greater or lesser extent, with a few demolished. It was estimated that Anna Maria’s property damage alone would be in excess of $10,000.
“The Cortez Road leading to the beach was obstructed at various points by fallen trees, with heavy washes at various points. The long bridge spanning the bay went undamaged, although reports said traffic was kept off it for a period during the morning.
“It was impossible to get an accurate check on the number of fish boats that sank in the Cortez vicinity, but many were engulfed. The biggest single loss in this connection is represented in the sinking of the Leonard two-masted pleasure schooner off Anna Maria Island. The Leonards, of Columbus, Ohio, had gone ashore before the handsome 60-foot craft went down. All that was visible of it today was the top of the masts that marked the spot where the yacht went down. It was said to have a value of $15,000.”
The article then lists damage to cottages and lodges on the beach.
“Most of the visitors on the beach came into the city [Bradenton] late in the afternoon and were quartered in the various hotels. Bloxom West of the lifeguard crew remained on the beach throughout the night, his associates Hoyle Knight and Lloyd Hicks being unable to rejoin him after coming into the city for a radio tube for their sending and receiving station.”
In Bradenton, lights were out, “however, the power company kept its crews at work all night in spite of the blinding rain with the result that most of the service had been restored by noon. Also, the city [again, Bradenton], was without telephone service for a big part of the time, although this company also was busy with increased crews in repairing the damage.
“The rain that began falling in a business-like manner during the afternoon and continued all night with only occasional lulls was still falling this afternoon, although there were times during the morning when the skies lightened and there was an observable effort on the part of the sun to break through.”
Now for the injury report.
“The period’s single injury as far as reports went showed C.G. Lewis, Cortez fisherman, to have been injured when he fell during the loading of a fish truck. He was given first-aid treatment at the Bradenton General Hospital and dismissed. X-rays could not be made of his injuries for the want of current.”
More ‘current’ news
Florida is going solar in a powerful way in the near future.
A whole slew of politicos announced Florida Power & Light’s plans to build what is envisioned to be a $2.4 billion facility that sucks in sunlight and turns it into electricity. When completed, it will be one of the largest solar thermal plants in the world and definitely the largest in the Sunshine State.
As explained in the St. Petersburg Times, “Solar thermal focuses sunlight using mirrors, creating heat to turn water into steam. The steam is used to turn a turbine to create electricity. The benefit of solar thermal over solar photovoltaics is the heat can be more easily stored, making solar thermal power available under cloudy skies and after dark.”
Cool. Or not.
No location of the plant was announced at last week’s hoopla, which featured former President Bill Clinton, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and others.
FPL is one of the largest, if not the largest energy provider in the state, and supplies electric needs for Manatee County.
And on a final, personal, note, I had a bit of a “current” shock last week when I got an e-mail from Paul Roat. Yes, Paul Roat.
“Are we related?” it asked.
Seems that there is a Paul Roat who lives just outside Seattle, Wash., who picked up my/our name through the Internet and The Islander Web site and shot the question to the paper.
We’ve gone back and forth a bit and it doesn’t seem that his family - his parents were from Italy - mine are from England/Germany -have no ties, but it’s sort of weird to get an e-mail from yourself.