Across the railroad track, the boundary of five miles inland, was to be the safe shelter from the hurricane.
Thus began our night of terror. Winds howled at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour..tornadoes twisted, skipping around to flatten structures, changing the landscape forever. The mighty fury of the storm blew inland pushing the Gulf waters over the shore.
Tall Mississippi pines swayed like dancers, left and right almost touching the ground until the final crack was heard as they fell stacking like cords of cut wood.
Electricity failed in the early hours of the storm. The world was sweltering hot blackness and fear.
The crashing of a tree falling across our home, splitting it in half, forced us out into the night to seek shelter in the home of a neighbor. Our children were tied to us with blankets as we made our way into the stormy night. The deafening roar of the winds muted our banging on the door as we stood shaking, hoping to be heard before being swept away by the wind. The house creaked and cracked with straining noises. We feared it would break apart with each wave of wind.
The storm raged through the darkness. By the first light of dawn, shell shocked neighbors began to venture outside to survey the damage. Our family home was no more.
Dazed facial expressions, eyes wide with horror, surveyed the damage. Faltering steps were taken, climbing over piles of debris. Reports from the beach highway began to circulate. Shopping centers, the magnificent cathedrals, beautiful historical churches, restaurants and stately mansions, gone.
Forty one years ago this month Hurricane Camille came onshore in Mississippi. I still taste the fear, embrace the hopelessness and helplessness felt by our community after this disaster.
I have chosen to remember this night of terror to remind myself that we did triumph over this unthinkable natural disaster. Each day I read of floods, ice storms, earthquakes and tornadoes. We watched news coverage of the unimaginable damage to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Most recently we have grieved for those who lost their lives on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig..and for their families. We morn for our beautiful Gulf waters now soiled by millions of gallons of oil. The environmental damage to the Gulf habitat, the destroyed Eco systems, the interruption in the lives of those who have made their living for generations on these waters seem insurmountable.
Hurricane Camille taught many lessons, this I believe:
God is good and will provide.
We are blessed by kind, giving angels who desire to help.
Hard work and determination can accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Walking in the shoes of another, we learn understanding.