She was no lady, that Camille

By BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,

Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!

It was coming up on my sixth birthday and school was starting but everybody was talking about this lady. Mr. Woody Asaf and whoever was on Channel 6 back in the day kept bringing her into discussions. Paul Harvey may have even mentioned her. She made her presence known to the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 17, 1969. A category five hurricane that became a benchmark for storms to come. Hurricane Camille had winds of 175 miles per hour, took the lives of 259 folks and caused $1.42 billion dollars of damage and that’s 1969 dollars. She was expensive and rude and definitely was not a lady.

I can remember my dad driving us all down to the coast and I sat in the station wagon all wide eyed. There were the biggest boats I’d ever seen sitting on the sandy beach. Some of the biggest trees I’d ever laid eyes on just laid over.

There were concrete foundations where homes used to be. That Camille was just plain awful and no lady.

A pastor friend of mine, Walt Shepard, was working for Pan Am Airlines back then and his grandmother lived on the coast. His buddies who understood radar and storms told him to tell her to leave. He called and gave her the info but she had weathered many storms and wasn’t about to uproot herself for Camille. Walt was more convinced by his airline friends to make sure she left so he drove down and got her out of the house with very few belongings and little time to spare.

The next day they drove back to her house and only the front three cement steps were left. I can’t even imagine but I don’t have to. The images are still in my mind and we may have even driven past that concrete slab where life used to be. That Camille was mean and certainly was no lady.

The scars of Hurricane Camille still stand and some run deep. Katrina followed in her footsteps bout the same time in August in 2006 and came close on some levels. It even knocked me out of job I had all the way up in Michigan working for Kelly Services. Katrina took out so many offices of theirs they had to cut non-essential staff everywhere they could. I was hearing about a raise and long-term work on Friday and by Monday was told my office stuff was in a box in the lobby and I needed to come get it, my job was over.

I may have lost a cushy desk job writing Kelly contracts but at least I could look elsewhere.

After Camille wreaked her havoc, entire businesses were simply gone and shrimp boats were grounded far offshore. It was the worst storm ever.

That Camille was no lady and neither was Katrina.

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