So, today I decided to take a walk down memory lane and bring up a topic few today know much on... and those who do don't say much.
The Labor Day Hurricane and Hemingway's coverage of that storm in the media.
As he was living on Key West during that period he was spared the storm itself but was one of the first journalists on the scene during the immediate aftermath of the storm. Infact, he helped bring supplies to the survivors on his boat Pilar.
He was appalled and angry at the terrible loss of life of Vets and Government workers who were being housed in poorly built "fishing camps" while working for the CCC. Being the journalist he was he used the pen to start a campaign to make an investigation of what happened and why they were not evacuated earlier.
Of course as legend has it (I mean I wasn't there.. we don't have the data we would have today, satelite imagery and all) this little tropical storm POPPED up out of nowhere and one day later.. just one day.. became a small missle sort of Cat 5 Storm that barreled across the poor little Keys and there was no time to even think.. let alone get them off the keys any faster than they did. Though there is a lot of discrepancies as to who and what knew what and something about getting a message from Garcia.. or whoever who had to give the order. You know what it's like when news happens on a weekend. Seems only Drudge works Sunday night.
Since there was no Drudge. No internet. No text messages.. the train was sent but sent late to evacuate them off the Keys and it went "whoosh" into Florida Bay when a great tidal wave hit and a good majority of the Vets were sent to their watery grave.
Excellent discussion on the storm is in many books. Florida Hurricanes for one.. is excellent though somewhat gruesome in discussion of the poor girls from the restaurant left dying and drying out their bodies caught up in trees for people below to gawk at.. very gruesome tale. Would make Stephen King shiver more than a 3 game loss to the Yankees would I am sure. Well, I think. Who really knows when talking about Stephen King.
Anyway.. my point in this all is that because the storm was considered a Cat 5 and classified as such it was an "act of God" and in ways this saved them from the blame game. As we know even governments are not responsible during an Act of God.
Now what do we have to base this upon? Well... there was a wind reading or two. The equiptment was blown away after reporting that gust.. of course. There weren't a lot of survivors with little wind devices like Jim Cantore holds up during every passing hurricane. Observation and a few recordings. Do we have any other storms to compare it to??? Noooooo, not really. The 35 Cane was it seems a total rarity... never happened before in recorded history and never happened since. And, was for years recorded as the strongest wind recording ever.. lowest barometer.. A legend among meteorological legends.
No one mentions that prior to this spitfire of a Cat 5 there was another hearing held after another hurricane. The famous writer who lived in the Grove area.. Munroe testified in court that the way they were building the train route down to the keys was a poor plan and unlike the current Overseas Highway that is built differently.. there were long expanses where the tracks would create an effect that would be like damning up a bay and that if a hurricane was to come in (any old large hurricane, didn't have to be a Cat 5) that it would create a funnel like effect for the water... build up strange tides that would eventually flood out the tracks and possibly create a great loss of life. This is all in government testimony on the previous hurricane years earlier.
Ralph Munroe was a conservationist early on. He complained about spoil islands being built in Biscayne Bay that would also change the tidal flow and damn up the bay in the event of a strong hurricane. His theories were later played out in the 1926 hurricane. He testified against the way the railroad had been built, was being built and testified that in his opinon it would SUCK a WAVE over across it .. not so much from Storm Surge but from the problems not taken into consideration in planning it.
A case could be made that the 1935 storm was a weaker storm and that it was easier for the Government and powers that be to go with the Cat 5.. Killer Storm and a once in a lifetime great, rapid intensification from simply a tropical storm than to go with the fact that because of the design of the railroad itself and the delay in waiting for proper approval from supervisors on vacation ... they waited too long and were in fact culpable for the deaths in some part.
Meanwhile.. when we have another small tropical storm turn into a deadly Cat 5 in less than a day and do the same thing.. I'll believe it. And, no Andrew did not go from a small tropical storm to a Cat 5 in less than 25 hours. It did intensify dramatically but nowhere near the legend of the 35 Cane.
And, doubt few meteorologists working for the government would like to take on that theory and downgrade it to a smaller storm in intensity.
Have read many reports..
A major storm.. yes.
A Cat 5???
Who really knows?
Definitely not the two pretty girls left high and dry in the tree to become corpses for people to gawk at down below.
Something to think on...
My own thoughts ... just common sense .. something doesn't sit right with me on the 35 Storm and though I am more a Fitzgerald girl than a Hemingway girl I will give the Old Man his due.. he knew the Sea.. and I think he was right.
from websites online... the following quotes..
"On Labor Day in 1935—an irony that was not lost on Hemingway—a hurricane struck the Keys, destroying a Civilian Conservation Corps work camp. Hundreds of veterans drowned. After rushing supplies to the survivors on his own boat "Pilar", Hemingway wrote an angry article for the Marxist The New Masses, under the title "Who Murdered the Vets?"
In it, he demanded to know why the homeless and ill-paid veterans had been stranded in the camp despite advance hurricane warning. In effect, Hemingway was accusing the federal government and state bureaucrats of manslaughter."
"...and the high wall of water rolls you over and over and then,
whatever it is, you get it and we find you, now of no importance
stinking in the mangroves. You're dead now, brother..."
Ernest Hemingway, "Who Murdered the Vets?" in _New Masses_
after the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane