South Mississippi residents remember Hurricane Camille

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Long before Katrina, there was one hurricane that was talked about more than any other on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hurricane Camille was "the" storm for a generation.

Camille slammed ashore 42 years ago. South Mississippians gathered Wednesday at noon to remember those killed by the storm. They held an observance at the Camille memorial, located at the former Church of the Redeemer site.

It was a short, somber ceremony. Names were read; victims remembered. Hurricane Camille delivered her death and destruction August 17th, 1969.

"A day that was such a day of infamy for this Mississippi Gulf Coast, when many who were loved were lost," said Rev. Sheri Prestemon.

Danny Guice will forever remember Camille.  He was Mayor of Biloxi when the fearsome storm roared ashore. He was among those attending the memorial ceremony.

"First place I saw was my father's home and it was completely destroyed. And I walked all the way to the Point, to the east, and such devastation I've never seen. Just piled high, you know, with debris," he recalled.

In keeping with tradition, the names of each person killed by Camille were read aloud. As the names were recited, red roses were placed atop the granite marker which lists the dead and missing.

Linda Martin attended to honor and remember her brother. Norman Joseph Lapryouse was lost at sea on a crew boat, a boat which was assigned to relocate automobiles from the Mississippi coast.

"And they were heading back to Venice. So, I'm sure they got caught in some of the bad weather," she said.

Julia Guice was Biloxi's civil defense director, and the widow of longtime Harrison County Civil Defense Director Wade Guice. She said in the wake of Camille's death and destruction, came much hope.

"People helping each other. During this Camille, people helped each other. And we were able to get a lot of cooperation from people away from this area who came to help also," she remembered.

As we enter the peak time for hurricane season, this moment of reflection, these names on a wall are reminders of just how devastating a hurricane can be.

"A lot of my good friends were lost during then, and it was very difficult times for us," said Guice.

Along with the granite wall listing the victims, the Camille memorial also includes a bent flag pole with a tattered American flag.

In the wake of Hurricane Camille, a picture of such a flag pole inspired people and became an iconic image forever associated with Camille.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved