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Hurricane CamilleReturn
A boat cants where it came to rest during Hurricane Camille.
Launch Image Gallery

Location: U.S. South
Date: August 1969
Intensity at landfall: Category Five
Dead: 256
Damage: 1.4 billion dollars (1969 dollars)

Though forecasters warned of an impending storm surge and dangerously high winds, 24 people decided to ride out Hurricane Camille at Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Several of the diehards gathered in one apartment for a "hurricane party." Accustomed to frequent preparation for storms that had never come or merely blew a few tree limbs down, they didn't take the warnings seriously.

When Camille slammed into the coast on August 17 with Category Five fury, the hurricane killed more than 140 people, including nearly all the Richelieu partygoers.

In Pass Christian the hurricane's immense 24-foot (7-meter) storm surge roared into the apartment building, demolishing the structure. Of the 24 people gathered there, only one survived. She swam out her second-story window and was found in a treetop the next day, five miles (eight kilometers) away.

Within 30 minutes after rushing in, the storm tide retreated, dragging tons of hurricane debris with it into the ocean.

The hurricane destroyed all wind-measuring instruments, but scientists estimate winds neared 200 miles (322 kilometers) an hour. More than 5,000 homes were demolished and 40,000 more were damaged along the lower Louisiana peninsula and in Mississippi.

After wracking the coast, Camille tracked inland across Louisiana and weakened into a tropical depression. But as the storm approached the Appalachian Mountains in southern Virginia, it intensified and produced a new round of torrential rains.

In Nelson County, Virginia, 28 inches (71 centimeters) of rain fell in eight hours, causing flash floods and landslides. Entire communities were swept away, and 153 people died.

In all, Hurricane Camille caused damages in excess of $1.4 billion (in 1969 dollars). It was the second strongest hurricane of the 20th century, behind an unnamed hurricane that struck the Florida Keys in 1935.


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