Historian's book chronicles three centuries of destruction

By David Elliott - bio | email

PERKINSTON, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Historian Dr. Charles Sullivan has written a book that tells the story of hurricanes on the coast dating back to the early 18th century.

"Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast: Three Centuries of Destruction" chronicles storms from 1717 up to Katrina in 2005.

Dr. Sullivan researched all the storms, including Camille's destructive impact in 1969. Photographs and personal stories tell a chilling tale of the storm's landfall and aftermath..

"Camille, topping 200 miles an hour and striking a small section of the coast, was unprecedented. Dr. Robert Simpson from the National Weather Service said he did not know if he was looking at a big tornado or a small hurricane. That's how violent it was," Sullivan said.

It was a life altering experience, much like Katrina would be almost 40 years later.

"The people who stayed, they will never stay again," Sullivan said.

Dr. Sullivan has collected photographs and conducted interviews for the book. He also has personal memories, like when WLOX radio and tv were broadcasting out of the old Buena Vista Hotel in Biloxi before Camille's sudden impact.

"It was our last life line to the world. At 10:03 when it went off the air, all we could hear was the howling wind," Sullivan remembered.

Dr. Sullivan's book is available through Gulf Coast Community College. Click here to learn more the book and how to order it.

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