Thirty-seven years ago, Hurricane Camille blasted the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
People died. Homes were blown away. Business stopped. Schools closed.
In hot, sticky weather, people came out of their shelter to clean up fallen trees, building debris and the drowned dead.
Mr. C grew up here. He remembers walking from his home to his Aunt's home crawling over piles of storm rubble. As he approached her street, he saw that her home was gone. He climbed over piles in the road and, looking up, saw a man high in the branches of a lone tree. The man lashed himself to the tree to keep from being pulled by the storm surge. When he saw Mr. C, he hollered out, "Do you have a cigarette?"
My former Garden Club holds a service remembering Faith, Hope and Charity, the three unnamed, unclaimed still, women found after the storm. Our former Civil Defense Director, Wade Guice, placed a headstone on the grave. The service is held under a green funeral tent in the swelter of an August day. Members of the Garden Club attend along with a reporter and perhaps the television station. After so many years, the service got smaller and smaller.
I haven't heard about this year's service.
Camille set the standard for which homes were safe in a storm. If your home survived Camille, you were doing great. Camille was the worst storm anyone knew.
Then August 29th came to the Gulf of Mexico. People who felt safe in a Camille-surviving-home perished when Katrina blew in.
People say Camille killed again in 2005 by giving people a sense of safety. Who knew? The human mind can hold only so much imagination for where water can go. We live in a 100 Year Flood area and our neighborhood lost home after home to wind and water.
Still unclaimed are the identities of Faith, Hope and Love, the Camille symbols of death. Unclaimed, too, are the dead of Katrina whose real names and families are not yet found.