In the heart of the black community,and among some of the oldest neighborhoods in The City of West Palm Beach, at the intersection of Tamarind Avenue and 25th Street, sits a 1 1/2 acre lot containing the remains of some 674 unidentified men, women, and children; victims of The Great Okeechobee Hurricane. They were migrant farmers and laborers of western Palm Beach County. Mostly black people, they were segregated even in death and were interred without coffins, as wood was reserved for whites only. Florida author Zora Neale Hurston described the mass burial in her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God: "... Don't let me ketch none uh y'all dumpin' white folks, and don't be wastin' no boxes on colored," a guard in the book says. "They's too hard tuh git ahold of right now." In life, they helped turn a South Florida swamp into a booming tropical mecca. In death, they were pitched into a trench, and left to be ignored for three-quarters of a century, neglected and nearly forgotten. A sewer-treatment plant and slaughter house were built adjacent to the site and a road was paved over a section of the grave. 80 years later, community leaders since have come together and worked to have the site beautified and registered as a National Historic Landmark, insuring the site and the dignity of those who died in Florida's most deadly hurricane is preserved. The September 16, 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane is the second most deadly storm in United States history. In total, the hurricane killed at least 4,078 people and caused around $100 million ($1 billion 2006 US dollars) in damages over the course of its path.moreless
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