A New Memorial Rekindles Memories Of Hurricane Camille

Those who lived here during Camille will certainly never forget. People lost everything. Les Newcomb remembers what a neighbor's house looked like.

"All their silverware, everything was gone," he said. "It was unbelievable. I hope I never see anything like that again."

Newcomb was among the first to survey the damage caused by Camille. The executive director of the South Mississippi Planning and Development District toured the coast with his friend, the late civil defense director Wade Guice. What they saw was devastation everywhere.

"It was something else," Newcomb said. "Something to experience. It really is. I still think about it and remember it. And people suffering. People crying. Everywhere."

George Towne captured the damaged coastline on film. He took the original pictures on an 8 millimeter camera he got from S & H green stamps. The images remain as sharp on film as they are in his mind. In a conversation with Towne, he remembered the next morning, when "people were saying we've got to get down to our houses and clean them out. There were no houses to clean out. They were gone."

A graphic example of the high water from Hurricane Camille can be seen on a marker at the Gulfport Harbor. If you look 25 feet in the air, you'll see the high water mark from Hurricane Camille.

Those who lived here during Camille remember something more than the devastation. They also recall the community spirit.

"People were so good down here," Newcomb said. He remembered seeing the American flag flying everywhere. "And that just made you feel good to see that. And people came from everywhere to help everybody else."

The American flag is a prominent part of the new memorial outside Biloxi's Church of the Redeemer. It's another reminder of that post-Camille spirit that kept this community together as the coast recovered and rebuilt after the storm 32 years ago.