For the rest of the country, the eventful summer of 1969 was not a Bryan Adams song, but it was the summer of Woodstock, the moon landing, Chappaquiddick and the Miracle Mets. Down on the Gulf Coast though, and also up in Virginia, it was the summer of Hurricane Camille…..

Hurricane Camille, still the strongest named storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland, howled outside the Jones house in Long Beach, Mississippi, 50 years ago this weekend. My uncle Carter Hillyer, then 20 and engaged to the Jones’ daughter Pat, heard the “roar” of the wind in the “pitch dark” outside and decided to peek out from the back garage.

“I turned on a flashlight, and in the beam, I saw bricks flying through the air,” Carter said. “I figured I had seen enough and got the heck back in the house.”

In the next town over, Pass Christian, Carter’s first cousin Meg Gaudet (now Retersdorf) walked through water, eventually about 18 inches deep, that was seeping into the Miramar nursing home. The Miramar was a sturdy, concrete-block structure overlooking the beach highway but perched atop the western edge of about a 12-foot rise that made the eastern half of the tiny town safer than the sea-level west. Meg was riding out the storm there with her parents, Lucy and Crow, and her (and Carter’s) grandmother, Polly.

“I was just 17 then, and even with the water coming in, I figured it was just a big adventure,” Meg said….

Lucy and Crow Gaudet knew their house back in Pass Christian Isles, with Bay St. Louis on one side and a bayou on the other, could easily be flooded. They and Meg thought the house of Margie, another sister of Lucy’s and Nellie’s, would be safe, and Margie was away, so the Gaudets brought provisions there. As the storm neared, though, civil-defense personnel arrived at the door and told them Camille was such a doozy that they needed to find higher ground. Well, if [my great-grandmother Polly was at the Miramar, they figured, maybe they should stay the night in her room.


Near the Miramar, vicious waves destroyed a beachfront gas station and somehow washed the massive underground gasoline tanks to the surface ….

[The rest of this article is at this link.]



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