Hurricane season is officially underway and every indication is that it will be a pretty active summer and fall in the tropics.
So we want to tell you a little about the Great Hurricane of 1926. It almost wiped out Miami in its earliest days, and it serves as a reminder that the 305 can always bounce back.
A YOUNG CITY: Miami was incorporated in 1896 and was juuust beginning to develop into a real city in the early 20th century. The extension of the Florida East Coast Railway and the Tamiami Trail down to Miami helped draw developers down to our decades-old city. A bunch of land was bought up and there were more than 100,000 residents in the area. Then came the hurricane.
THE STORM: The “Great Hurricane” hit Miami on Sept. 17 and 18 in 1926 with the force of a Category 4 storm. The storm surge was so high at times that the water from the Atlantic Ocean extended across Miami Beach and Biscayne Bay onto the streets of Miami, according to the National Weather Service. And because residents were so unfamiliar with major storms, a bunch of people went out into the eye of the storm thinking the hurricane had completely passed. No bueno.
THE IMPACT: More than 6,000 people were injured and 372 people died in the storm. And more than 43,000 people were left homeless because of the hurricane. It caused more than $100 million in damage– the equivalent of more than $150 billion in damages today. And just as Miami started recovering, the Great Depression hit. It wasn’t until families started settling here after World War II that the city truly bounced back.
THE LEGACY: The storm was a wake-up call for weather tracking efforts by the National Weather Service—the morning before the hurricane, there still hadn’t been any warnings issued in Miami. The hurricane also led to the creation of the state building code and stronger regulations for new homes. While Hurricane Andrew still caused plenty of devastation in 1992 and some businesses today are still recovering from Hurricane Irma, the 1926 hurricane definitely provided a blueprint for how to rebuild after major storms.
Stay tuned for more semi-regular pieces of Miami history. Are there other overlooked or lesser-known Miami history tidbits you want us to share? Let us know in the comments.