Eye Witness Account of Hurricane Camille 1969

Mar 23, 2009
East Bethel, Minnesota
I didn't write this, but found it a fascinating read:

Andrea Dona Nov 22, 2014
I was 7 years old and living in Long Beach Mississippi with my family when Hurricane Camille hit on August 17, 1969. On August 15 of that same year my mother had gone to New Orleans to pick my father up from port, he was a merchant marine. They returned home on August 16 and began watching the news for weather reports. My father had said that his ship was in front of the storm as he came into port. At first it was thought that it was going to head to Florida, but soon became apparent that we were in for a direct hit. Our home was located about a mile and a half from the beach, but my father insisted that we were going to weather it out in our home because he said it was brand new and made of brick. My mother raised all kinds of you know what and made him call the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff told my father to get out now because this was a real bad one and gave him directions to get to the Quitman Elementary school that was located 5 miles inland. On August 17, my mother sent me to church with the neighbors, which was strange because we did not attend church. I remember thousands and thousands of dragonfly's everywhere, which were being pushed a head of the low front. When I got home my parents and my brother were putting everything outside into the house and tying everything else down that would not fit. When we set out for the school by 1:00 in the afternoon, it was so overcast that the street lights came on and it had begun to sprinkle. Driving to the school was terrible because the roads were clogged with traffic cutting in and out with people trying to get somewhere frantically. When we got to the school we were directed into one of the classrooms but as time went on the winds began to cause the windows to bow inward, so we moved into the hallways and shut the classroom doors. My father had a short wave radio that could pick up a station in the Philippines and this is what we were listening to as the storm came in. The data that I have seen on Wikipedia and other sites are not what we heard from the weather station in Mississippi. Before the radio began to let out a loud squeal they were reporting that the sustained wind speed was 225 mph, the sea level had risen 30 feet and was coming in at high tide, and the last gust we heard was 285 mph, that is when the weather station blew away. The combination of winds and high tide whipped up waves in excess of 70 feet which scoured the coast many blocks inland. I have extensive and precise memories of that night in that school. A tornado hit the school, killing everyone in the cafeteria and took the roof off of the section we were in. The next day when it was over, the sky was as blue as I remember it ever being, but the landscape around the school had changed dramatically. All the homes that were in the parameter of the school were gone, even the grass was gone. There was one tree that was sheered off with only a sharp pointed limb with a piece of cloth hanging off of it. My father and a group of men used chainsaws to cut away the trees blocking the way back toward the beach. When he came back he faced my mother and told her that everything is gone, the town, the neighborhood where we live and our house was gone. We stayed in the damaged home with the neighbors across the street who had a Koi pond and that is how we got fresh water, but they became increasingly agitated with us being there because the food supply was running short. August 18 was one of the hottest days of that year so far, and the next day yielded in the unmistakable stench of animal carcasses and and rotting bodies. Looters began to scavenge our neighborhood, and with broken glass and nails everywhere people were getting tetanus, and because people had begun to drink the standing water, typhoid broke out. Before we left Long Beach for the final time we took one last drive down highway 90 towards Pass Christian. It is burned in my memory what we saw. It was complete and total devastation so we decided to turn around and get back. We finally left three days later and drove our severely damaged car to get to a pay phone to contact my fathers relatives in Memphis Tennessee. I have written a short story that chronicles that night and how we survived in that school. I was wondering if anyone knows of a newspaper of magazine that would be interested in publishing my account of Hurricane Camille. If so, please contact me at [email protected] with information.