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This week in history: The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926

The Sept. 18, 1926 storm was described as “the most disastrous hurricane” in Florida’s history. Miami and Moore Haven — where the dike around Lake Okeechobee broke — felt the brunt of the storm, but Palm Beach County reported 100-mile-an-hour winds, street flooding, and damage to buildings and trees.

The front pages of the Miami News tell the story (click on the images to browse the newspapers and see more photos of the storm aftermath):

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Posted in Flashback blog September 17, 2012 at 6:00 am.

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This week in history: Hurricane David passes by Palm Beach County

On Sept. 3, 1979 Hurricane David skirted the coast of Palm Beach County, collapsing the roof of the Palm Beach Jai Alai fronton and the WJNO Radio tower, and leaving about $30 million in damage.

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Posted in Flashback blog August 31, 2012 at 3:00 am.

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Preparing for Hurricane Andrew

West Palm Beach, Aug. 22, 1992: Customers were buying bottled water as fast as Ray Launiere could unpack cases of it at Publix on Southern Blvd. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

Delray Beach, Aug. 23, 1992: Northbound traffic on I-95 was bumper-to-bumper while southbound lanes were nearly empty as people were evacuated from the path of Hurricane Andrew. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

West Palm Beach, Aug. 22, 1992: Publix shoppers stock up on canned goods. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

Boca Raton, Aug. 23, 1992: Boats were secured in a canal as Hurricane Andrew approached. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

Aug. 23, 1992: People wait in line to fill their tanks at a propane station in Atlantis Plaza on Lantana Road. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)


Posted in Flashback blog August 22, 2012 at 11:17 am.

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Many rose to help Andrew victims 20 years ago

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. You will hear all week about the Aug. 24, 1992, storm, one of only three on record to strike the North American mainland at the top-end Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Andrew, the first major hurricane to strike southern Florida in decades, sparked numerous changes in the way local, state and federal governments brace for, prepare for, respond to and rebuild after such disasters.

The storm smashed the suburbs south of Miami. It was not a Palm Beach County/Treasure Coast event. But Andrew does have two links to our region that merit mention.

First is the monumental effort that took place at the South Florida Fairgrounds, west of West Palm Beach, under the direction of the late B.T. Kennedy, the Palm Beach County emergency manager who died in 2007.

During three weeks, more than 20,000 volunteers unloaded and sorted truckloads of incoming supplies, then reloaded 1,200 trucks with 8.6 million pounds of materials and sent them south to the disaster zone.

We also honor and remember Herb Engelman. A plaque honoring him hangs in the lobby of the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center in suburban West Palm Beach.

Here’s part of a 2008 guest column by retired Palm Beach Post editorial writer Bill McGoun.

“Engelman, a teacher and coordinator of the GED program at Santaluces High School, died after being struck by lightning while helping unload relief supplies from a helicopter in south Dade.

“I first met Herb when he came to Lake Worth near the end of World War II. We went through the public schools and Palm Beach Junior College together. Besides being classmates, we were close friends.

“Herb truly had a heart as big as all outdoors. We drifted apart as adults as our lives went in different directions, but I was not surprised to hear of the work Herb was doing at Santaluces, pushing students to complete their education so they could make good. That’s the kind of person he was.”

After Hurricane Andrew hit Aug. 24, 1992, relief efforts were set up at South Florida Fairgrounds on Southern Boulevard in suburban West Palm Beach.

Help: The Loxahatchee Guild and the town of Jupiter are looking for any photos, preferably 1948-1952, of the former Florida East Coast Railway depot in Jupiter, which the Guild is restoring. Email loxahatchee guild@gmail.com


Posted in Eliot Kleinberg August 16, 2012 at 9:05 am.

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Hurricane of 1928 was Geerworth’s end

Each year at this time, we mark the most profound event ever in Palm Beach County: the great Sept. 16, 1928, hurricane, which killed as many as 3,000 people.

Most died when a 6-foot muck dike failed and the storm pushed the waters of Lake Okeechobee into the countryside.

It’s the second-deadliest natural disaster in American history.

One of the storm’s victims wasn’t a person, but a place — a place called Geerworth.

The 16,000-acre tract was about 10 miles east of Belle Glade, at a spot at Senter Road and State Road 880′s “Nine Mile Bend.”

It had been founded around 1918 by Harvey G. Geer (above), who developed much of the West Palm Beach area and helped build the first Royal Park (middle) bridge to Palm Beach.

The first buildings went up on April 13, 1921. By December, more than 100 acres had been cleared.

Geer sold 20 tracts, of 10 to 50 acres each, mostly to a colony of Brits, set to leave Liverpool the following February.

An article echoed the hopes of developers of homes and farms sprawling from the coast to the big lake: “This is just a beginning and demonstrates what will happen as soon as the roads into the Glades are completed.”

And, it said, “every resident of Palm Beach County should make this trip and familiarize himself with this coming great domain which lies at their very door.”

In 1922, much of the settlement was swamped by floods.

But by 1925, Conners Highway was about to link the Glades to the coast. An article from April 1925, two months before the road opened, said, “already the new town of Geerworth has been laid out with a hotel, packing house, several good dwelling houses and county school. Crops are now growing and daily shipments of produce are being made.”

That resurgence was brief. In March 1928, with the countryside tinder-dry following a drought, a grass fire roared through, burning down several buildings.

The 1928 storm washed out Geerworth forever. The former site now is part of the area’s expanse of sugar cane and muck.

Geer died at 83 in June 1939.

The annual service to victims of the 1928 hurricane who are buried at the cemetery in Port Mayaca, is at 10 a.m. Friday, the hurricane’s 83rd anniversary.

Special thanks to archivist Debi Murray, Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

This photo taken in Belle Glade after the devastating hurricane of 1928 shows the damage to the Everglades Experiment Station. A 6-foot muck dike around Lake Okeechobee failed, and much of the nearby countryside was flooded. (Photo courtesy of the University of Florida)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg September 16, 2011 at 8:51 am.


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