Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hurricane Camille Part 2

I wasn't very old--and I wish I had a better idea of what I felt at the time--seeing all that devastation. My great uncle's house was in the middle of an old pecan grove--his house was untouched but all the pecan trees were leaning a lot---only one was up rooted enough to kill it--a few are still there. He and his wife lived about 8 miles from the coast so their damage was minimal (I think they had no water though for weeks). We actually drove down to the coast and along Highway 90 where the worst of the damage was. Okay we couldn't go to the worst part--which would have been a few miles west.

The first thing that struck me was the smell(the was a cat food canning factory that caused part of the smell but that was just passed the Ocean Springs bridge in Biloxi). My grandparents had taken me fishing for as long as I could remember--the smell was like dead fish magnified a 1000 times--it took your breath away. Debris was everywhere--massive amounts of sand, boats, an old sunken barge, hotels with the roofs gone.

What would strike me for years were all the steps and walkways to empty lots where houses had once stood. That Tuesday you could drive around Bilbao and Gulfport but the damage increased the farther west you drove--I have read since then that there were lots of dead bodies--people and livestock, pets, but I didn't see any of that--at least not that I remember--at best I only remember pieces.

I remember vividly the drive back up Highway 49--about 250 miles due north was the remnant of Camille--it was like following a storm front with dark clouds and lightning. For years after wards on Interstate 55 and to a lesser degree on Highway 49, you could see the path the storm took because all the trees along the road were bent to the north. Everyone nearly had a duck when they found out we had driven to Gulfport--but when my grandmother made up her mind to do something (she was only 54 that year) she did it--so it was best to not stand in her way.

All those Mississippi coast towns are right there on top of each other; so where the eye of Camille came in at Pass Christian is about 9.1 miles from Gulfport. My great uncle's place was off Three Rivers Road-about 18.7 miles from where eye wall came in.

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