BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Before there was Hurricane Katrina, there was Hurricane Camille. On Sunday, South Mississippi will observe the 45th anniversary of what, for some people, is still the worst storm ever to hit the Mississippi Coast.
Danny Guice, Sr. remembers it all too well. It was the evening of Aug. 17, 1969. Hurricane Camille blew on shore with maximum winds estimated at 190 mph and gusts up to 200. Tides were up to 20 feet above normal.
The American Red Cross reported almost 6,000 homes were destroyed, and more than 39,000 homes suffered some level of damage across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Camille, a Category 5 hurricane when it landed, killed more than 200 people and caused billions of dollars in damages.
Guice was Mayor of Biloxi when the hurricane slammed onshore. As he explained on WLOX TV's Midday show with Rhonda Weidner, it's a storm he will never forget.
"Well, it was very, very difficult, you know," Guice said. "Ray Butterfield, who was the manager of WLOX-TV, and I were there that night before Camille as it was coming in broadcasting and advising people to be careful at the Old Buena Vista hotel, in the basement area there, until the waters came in and stopped us. At that time, I knew we were in serious trouble."
Despite the devastation suffered, Guice was encouraged with how well South Mississippi climbed out of the debris to rebuild.
"You know, I was grateful we were able to rebuild our city in a short period of time, because at that time, we didn't have all the various federal programs that you had to get in to that take a long time to develop. We were able to get our money right away once the money started coming in," said Guice.
There are several events marking the observance of the deadly storm including the program, "Camille: The 45th Anniversary Remembrance," at the Saenger Theatre in Biloxi. The event, which features the 1970s documentary "A Lady Called Camille" and a never-before-seen reminisce with Guice, will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Biloxi Visitors Center and the Ohr O'Keefe Museum.