Hurricane Camille

From Academic Kids

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Hurricane Camille in the Gulf of Mexico

Hurricane Camille was a Category 5 hurricane that struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast region on the 17th and 18th of August 1969. (see track of Camille's eye at landfall (http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/homepages/roger_pielke/camille/figures/fig1a.jpg)).

Camille is considered the first-or second-worst storm ever to hit the mainland United States. Camille had winds in excess of 210 mph (340 km/h) and a storm surge of over 24 feet (6 metres) (see storm surge profile (http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/homepages/roger_pielke/camille/figures/fig4.gif)).

Camille killed 143 people along Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The storm moved inland and turned eastward. As it reached southern Virginia it unleashed torrential rains of up to 31 inches (790 mm) in some areas which killed 113 additional persons due to flash floods and landslides. 8,931 people were injured, 5,662 homes were destroyed, 13,915 homes experienced major damage. The area of total destruction in Harrison County, Mississippi alone was 68 square miles (176 km²). Total estimated cost of damage was US$1.42 billion.

Part of the death toll from Camille was due to the refusal of people along the coast to evacuate.

In 1969 the naming conventions for hurricanes were not strictly controlled as they are today. John Hope, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center named the hurricane in honor of his daughter Camille who had just graduated from high school.

The Hurricane Party

One persistent legend about Camille states that a hurricane party was held on the third floor of the Richelieu Manor Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi that wound up in the path of the eyewall as it made landfall. The high storm surge flooded and destroyed the building, and there was only one survivor to tell of the story of the 21 others. Who the survivor is, how many party guests there were, and just how far the sole survivor was swept by the storm varies with the retelling.

In reality, most of the people that stayed in the Richelieu Apartments survived, and there was no party. Residents, exhausted from helping to prepare the town to weather the storm, took refuge in the building not out of recklessness, but because it was believed to be one of the sturdiest buildings in the area. Survivor Ben Duckworth is quoted in Hurricane Camille: Monster Storm of the Gulf Coast as stating that the Richelieu was a designated civil defense air-raid shelter. However, their faith in the building's sturdiness was unfounded, as it was completely demolished by the storm. Twenty-three people are known to have stayed in the Richelieu Apartments during Hurricane Camille, but only eight died.

The mythical hurricane party has been referenced several times in pop culture, and formed the basis for an episode of Quantum Leap titled "Hurricane".

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