Pat Shingleton: "Labor Day Storms and Gustav..."
It was a compact and intense hurricane that caused extreme damage in the upper Florida Keys and a storm surge of approximately 18 to 20 feet. Its winds leveled most of the buildings in the Islamorada area as numerous World War I veterans were killed by the storm surge while building the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad. Prior to the naming of storms this was known as the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Labor Day, 2008 in Baton Rouge may also be remembered as Hurricane Gustav laid waste to our city and surrounding area. A peak wind gust of 91 miles per hour put Gustav as the worst hurricane ever in this city’s history, surpassing Hurricane Betsy. After Gustav, Ike banged Houston, Texas with 110 m.p.h. winds and flooding rain. The "1898 Hurricane" claimed 190 lives, one of the worst in New England history and sank the "SS Portland." The "Portland" was designed for coastal bays, running from Boston to Portland, Maine. The weather on the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving in 1898 was deteriorating but the ship's captain was known as a "storm racer." In 90 mile per hour winds and 30-foot seas, the Portland went down at 9:30 p.m., verified by pocket watches that came ashore. One hundred and fifty ships went down that night. In August of 2002 the wreckage of the Portland was located.