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The Relief Train

Toppled relief train, wreck intersected by
Upper Matecumbe’s De Leon Avenue
Toppled relief train, wreck intersected by Upper Matecumbe’s De Leon Avenue

Monday, September 2

3:30 a.m.: Weather Bureau calls FERA office at Matecumbe Hotel to relay message, “Caution high tides and gales on Florida Keys.”

7:30 a.m.: Ray Sheldon told of the Weather Bureau report

9:30 a.m.: Weather Bureau Miami Daily News reporter William Johns calls Ray Sheldon who tells the reporter, “I have two trains in Miami that can get down here on about three or four hours notice, and in case it gets too bad, why we will send for them.”

10 a.m.: Administrative assistant for the WPA in Washington reads headline in the Washington Post, “Hurricane Heads Toward Florida.” He calls Florida FERA administrator Conrad Van Hyning in Tallahassee to suggest he contact the work camps in the Keys to make sure the vets were being evacuated

10:30 a.m.: Ernest Carson of the Miami office at the Weather Bureau tells Ray Sheldon that hurricane warnings have been issued in Key West. Sheldon tells Carson, “We are getting out.” Sheldon insists on running the idea by his boss, Fred Ghent, before taking further action. Ghent, who slept in late that morning, rises around 11 a.m. and checks in with his office briefly before heading out for a long lunch. No one in his office is aware of where he goes.