Historic Markers Across Florida

Hurricane of 1928

Marker ID: FLHM F-748
Location: at the Ortona Cemetery on Florida 78, Moore Haven, FL
County: Glades
Coordinates: N 26° 48.970    W 081° 18.090
  26.81616666    -81.3015
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMJJ6Z


The Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 was the most deadly hurricane ever to strike the state of Florida. An estimated 2500 persons in South Florida died when the storm came ashore on September 16, 1928 near the Jupiter Lighthouse and traveled west across Palm beach County to Lake Okeechobee. Many of the hurricane's fatalities, most of them migrant farm workers, occurred when the Lake Okeechboee dike was overwhelmed and the populated south side of the lake was flooded with a 15-20 ft storm surge. The floodwaters carried victims and survivors as far as ten miles from the lakeshore along nearly the entire south half of the lake, from Moore Haven to Pahokee. Noted Florida writer Zora Neale Hurston used the events surrounding the tragedy in her 1937 novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God" as she described the recovery and burial of the dead. The Ortona Cemetery contains the unmarked graves of several hundred victims of the 1928 hurricane, as well as the victims of the 1926 hurricane that devasted Glades County. Several hundred African-American victims of the Okeechobee Hurricane were buried in a mass grave in the City of West Palm Beach's pauper cemetery.

A Florida Heritage Landmark sponsored by Representatives Denise Grimsley (2004-2012) & Joseph R. Spratt (1996-2004), Florida House of Representatives District 77, and the Florida Department of State.

Rep. Denise Grimsley, Rep. Joseph Spratt, & the Florida Department of State