August 18, 2011

hurricane_camille Hard to believe that it’s been 42 – count ’em, 42! – years since Hurricane Camille blasted the Gulf Coast, causing 153 deaths and millions of dollars of damage and devastation. From

Hurricane Camille is one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfall in the United States with sustained winds of 170 mph and higher. Camille made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi on Aug. 17, 1969 as a Category 5 hurricane. Camille remains one of the deadliest and costliest for the United States on record. Camille’s lowest pressure was 909 millibars and had a 24-foot storm surge, one of the highest in recorded history.

I was thirteen years old in the summer of 1969 and vividly remember reading about Camille in the Lowell Sun and being blown away (no pun intended) by the stories and photos of her power and the devastation left behind. As it happens, Camille’s landfall also coincided with Woodstock; I can remember the juxtoposition of both news events in the same newspaper and being amazed at the fury of the times. Peace. Love. Hurricane. Death.

There are so many memories about that summer of 1969; as a young teen the music I was listening to at that time reflected the AM radio innocence of that age: The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”; Zager and Evans’ “In The Year 2525” (I can still remember my brother Mark and I riding our bikes all the way down to Stadium Plaza in Lowell (easily a 1.5 hour trek) on a Friday night just to buy their 45 RPM single); the Youngbloods’ “Get Together”. But things and times they were a-changin’: in less than a months’ time The Beatles would release their iconic “Abbey Road”; getting it for a present that Christmas, I fell in love with Paul McCartney’s bass on “You Never Give Me Your Money” and music for me would never be the same: I would find myself playing bass in my very first band within a years’ time.

Besides, the Manson murders also occurred that summer, and with them went the whole bogus idea that the Sixties and the “Summer of Love” were some beautiful, existential way of life; it was always just a load of crap and the first of many excuses for checking out of life and indulging in one’s own self-destructive tendencies without any concern for anyone – after all, the burgeoning “nanny state” would take care of you. Rock on, dude.

But I digress.

Back in 2000, Tracey and visited the Hurricane Camille gift shop in Gulfport, Mississippi; the gift shop was actually in a boat that had washed a mile or so inland. Unfortunately, the gift shop was irrevocably damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and ultimately destroyed; what nature gives, nature takes away. If there’s one thing to remember about Hurricane Camille, it is that no matter what man devises, it holds but a candle to the awesome power of God’s creation.

Those are my memories, does anyone out there have any in regards to Hurricane Camille and the summer of 1969?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:59 | Comments (3)
  1. There was a PSA sometime after Camille that showed a man walking up a stairway. All you could see was his shoes and the stairway. He was telling the story of people coming to the beachfront house for Camille and having a hurricane party. When he got to the top step, the camera pulled back to show that’s all there was. The stairway was the only survivor. The house and its occupants had been washed away. Some days after the storm, we curious New Oleanians took a ride along the coast to see what we could see. We saw many, many stairways just like the one in the PSA but long before that PSA was made. Quite sobering, even for this kid of 12.

    Probably because of development and population concentration, Katrina was far more devastating, even in Mississippi. Devastation has less to do with strength and more to do with location, location, location.

    Comment by Rob — August 18, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  2. I was so upset that I couldn’t go to Woodstock as I was busy graduating from college…but I do vaguely recall Camille and the devastation it caused. I think Katrina will forever be burned in my memory due to the media coverage.

    Comment by Jana — August 18, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  3. Katrina memories will go to my grave with me, Jana. It was a life-changing event and I only saw a little of the media coverage.

    Comment by Rob — August 18, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

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