Sunday, August 16, 2009

Camille, Forty Years Later

The local paper chronicles Hurricane Camille's 40th anniversary today. Go here and look for the gallery of pics.

Hurricane Camille touched me as a teen. I was miles away, up East, but my mom was away visiting my older sister in New Orleans. Early Sunday morning I answered the phone to hear Mama breathlessly telling me that she was o.k. and not to worry. I didn't know New Orleans was threatened by Camille nor did I have a clue about hurricanes. I thought hurricanes happened to other people, not us.

90 miles away from Mama, my future husband started out of his broken neighborhood to walk 2 miles toward the beach to see his Aunt Deedee and make sure she was OK. He climbed over downed trees and power lines to her home. Her house was gone. She made it to safety but her property was rubble. Mr.C. heard a voice calling him and looked up to a surviving tree where a man called out for cigarettes. The man tied himself to the tree to keep from being swept away by the storm surge. Hours later, thirsty and exhausted, he wanted smokes.

Later, Mr. C. realized his Beatles albums were destroyed. I love this story because it shows the proportion of loss perspective.

Years later, my Garden Club held the annual memorial for Faith, Hope and Charity, the three women found after the storm (172 people died) and never claimed. Look at the pictures to see these graves. 40 years later, no one has stepped forward to identify these women as kin. Look for the pictures of Wade and Julia Guice.

The Civil Defense Head Wade Guice was our neighbor in Biloxi. The real estate listing should have mentioned our proximity to the Guices because we got early warning of storms if we drove by the Guice home and saw their porch chairs turned to the house wall or (gasp!) taken indoors.

For thirty-five years, Camille was the worst storm for the Gulf Coast.



Songbird said...

Those pictures have such a familiar feel. It's amazing to think of Mr. C living through the aftermath of both the storms.

zorra said...

I'll never forget Camille, either. That was my early lesson in how far inland a hurricane can do serious damage to homes and trees. I wasn't reminded of that lesson again until 2005.

1-4 Grace said...

Wow. Amazing how times have changes in such a short time. Now, thanks to 24hr weather and news, satellites and other technology, we know so much more and faster. Oh and yes, thanks to Jim Cantorie for those reports in pellting rain.
But, yet there is nothing to do to lessen the strength or impact of hurricanes. Yes, we can prepare and be more ready,but they still do what they are gonna do.
Prayers continue as the season has suddenly picked up. 2 and half months of peace.

Mary Beth said...

I was a little girl then, but I remember them saying, "Camille, camille, camille." I didn't understand what a camille was, but I knew it was BAD.

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Sue said...

Wow. That is an amazing account of a catastrophic storm. I spent yesterday mesmerized by "Bill" from the safety of my hotel room in Halifax. It was only Category 1 by the time it hit land, but the damage and the wind were nonetheless daunting for someone who has never lived near an ocean.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about you and yours and all that you have experienced in storms so very much worse than Bill.

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