Subversive Historian – 09/17/08

Lake Okeechobee and The Hurricane of 1928

Exactly eighty years ago on this day in people’s history, Hurricane San Felipe Segundo made its devastating landfall in South Florida. On September 17th 1928, the first hurricane to be recorded as a category five storm in the Atlantic Basin brought destruction to the coastal community of Lake Okeechobee. With winds howling upwards to 140 miles an hour, the waters of the lake overwhelmed a small inadequate dike as flooding ensued. Upwards to 2,500 people died in the devastation. However, with segregation, three-fourths of all total deaths were black. In his book, “Killer ‘Cane,” author Robert Mykle recounted how in the storm’s aftermath blacks were forced, at times by gunpoint, to handle the cleanup despite the fact that their dead were given separate and unequal mass graves. In more ways than one, Hurricane Katrina would follow as the most devastating storm since Okeechobee.

It would seem the winds of change in the United States are not as furious as those of nature.

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