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Hurricane Information

Hurricane NamesWhat is a HurricaneSurvival Tips
Hurricane BetsyHurricane CamillePast Hurricane Info
Detailed info on hurricane camilleDetailed info on hurricane betsyReserved

Hurricane Names

Why Hurricanes Are Named

Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written and spoken communication is quicker, and less subject to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, airports, coastal bases and ships at sea.

The use of easily remembered names greatly reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time. For example, one hurricane can be moving slowly westward in the Gulf of Mexico, while at exactly the same time another hurricane can be moving rapidly northward along the Atlantic Coast. In the past, confusion and false rumors have risen when storm advisories broadcast from one radio station were mistaken for warnings concerning an entirely different storm located hundreds of miles away.
Hurricane Names for 1998-2002

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What is a Hurricane

What Is A Hurricane?

Hurricanes are part of a family of weather systems known as "tropical cyclones." The word hurricane is from the West Indian word hurricane, meaning "big wind." A hurricane begins its life as a disorganized storm system which forms over warm, tropical waters in the Atlantic. When the storm system become more organized, it is classified as a "tropical depression," and given a number by the National Hurricane Center. If the winds in a tropical depression grow in intensity to 40mph, it is re-classified as a "tropical storm," and it receives a name. When the winds in the storm reach 75mph (120kph), the storm is upgraded to a hurricane.

The winds of a hurricane are structured around a central "eye", which is an area that is free of clouds and relatively calm. Around this "eye" area, storm clouds wrap in a counter-clockwise motion. This "eyewall" of clouds, wind and rain, is the most destructive part of the storm. In fact, it is the eyewall that creates the eye, since the rapid spinning clouds in the wall reduce the pressure in the eye and suck out any clouds that may be there.

Hurricanes are usually compact storms, with maximum wind velocities extending out 10 to 100km from the eye. Of course, one can still experience gale-force winds as much as 300 miles out from the eye, which is why everyone in the Gulf Coast area is concerned when a hurricane comes a-calling.

Gulf Coast Vulnerability

There are two main geographic reasons the Gulf Coast is vulnerable. First, our proximity to tropical waters puts us in the path of the storms. Second, the waters of the Gulf are warmer than those of the Atlantic, which is attractive to the storms. The entire Gulf region is a magnet for storms looking for a warm place to grow.

The Gulf Coast, particularly Louisiana and Mississippi, have learned some hard lessons about hurricanes. Since 1965, the area has been hit hard by three very serious storms, as well as a number of minor ones. In 1965, Hurricane Betsy, after hitting the tip of Florida and wiping out the Keys, came straight up the mouth of the Mississippi and flooded the city of New Orleans and the low-lying parishes south of the city. In 1969, Hurricane Camille came in on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, all but destroying everything on the coast with its 200+ mph winds and 25+foot tidal surge. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew, after causing a devastating amount of damage in Southern Florida, came ashore west of New Orleans, spawning tornadoes that contributed to the massive amount of destruction

When Is Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season officially runs from June 1st to November 30th. While storms develop both early and late in the season, the late summer to early fall tends to be the time when the area is most vulnerable.
Names for this year’s hurricanes
Time was when all hurricanes were given women’s names. The notion was that the storms are totally unpredictable, just like women. That was changed in 1991, and now both male and female names are used. Back to top

Hurricane Survival Tips

Hurricane Safety Tips

Being prepared is essential to hurricane survival. A regular review of safety tips and precautionary measures will maximize your protection.

A "hurricane watch" is issued for coastal areas when there is a hurricane threat.

A "hurricane warning" is issued when hurricane conditions are expected to occur within 24 hours in a specific coastal area. The conditions include winds of hurricane force, dangerously high tides and waves, heavy rain, or a combination of these conditions.

The following tips are basic and very important: DO keep listening to your local radio or TV stations for weather advisories and special instructions. Be sure to have battery-powered radios and flashlights with extra batteries on hand. Your battery-powered radio could be your only source of information during a hurricane emergency.

Board up or tape windows for protection against wind-driven debris. Although tape may not prevent windows from breaking, it helps prevent flying glass. Secure or bring inside outdoor objects such as garbage cans, lawn chairs and porch furniture.

Those not immediately directed to evacuate their homes should be certain your supply of non-perishable food is adequate. Store a supply of drinking water in clean bathtubs or sinks, bottles, or cooking utensils. Your city's water supply could become contaminated. Fill your car's fuel tank in case evacuation becomes necessary. Service stations could close if electric power is cut off.

Avoid becoming trapped in an automobile on an open road flooded by high tides, storm waves, or torrential rains. Driving in such areas is dangerous and can be further complicated by traffic jams. Get an early start in evacuating your area.

As a hurricane approaches, leave mobile homes for a more substantial shelter. Mobile homes, even if firmly secured, are extremely vulnerable to both high winds and flooding. Also, plan to leave if you live on the coastline, on an offshore island, near a river, or in a flood plain.

If you have any questions about hurricane preparedness, contact your local Emergency Management office or the National Weather Service.

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On September 8th, 1965, Betsy introduced herself into the Gulf of Mexico with a fury and those along the shores, from Florida, to Texas, began to hold their breaths in anticipation of what type of guest this lady might be. In the end the people of Louisiana would serve as the host for this most unwelcome visitor. Many suffered great loss, and personal tragedy, others met death. Betsy traveled three separate paths from the time of her inception until her final burst through the lands of Louisiana and Arkansas. Her erratic paths and rapid forward speed prevented emergency agencies from issuing evacuation commands until the last moment.
The people of Plaquemines parish were no stranger to evacuations and seasonal storm damages. Most had their own plan of getting out in time. Early wednesday morning the call to prepare for what seemed to be a very dangerous and threatening storm, echoed along the streets of our small town. Weather bureau agencies began notifying residents of the threat of the storm's approach to our area on Thursday morning, September 9th, 1965 at 8 am. The winds and water that Betsy offered began moving across the state at 6pm that evening, with only 10 hours warning.

Betsy traveled over Plaquemines parish Thursday night, with wind gusts up to 160 miles per hour. Betsy's tidal surges, drove the Gulf into the Mississippi River with walls of water reaching up to 16 feet. Devastation was occurring and nothing could be done to stop the wrath. Betsy, was leaving her mark. Houses were thrown like boxes, into neighboring yards, and roofs floated away like sea- foam. Power lines crashed down upon cars,and buildings. Howling winds, blew signs,and debris, like spinning tops. The smallest objects picked up by Betsy's winds became weapons blown about like hurling darts. Glass smashed under the force, throwing bits of daggers across the land. Tornadoes were spawned to finish what Betsy didn't destroy, and leaving a path of destruction. The news came "total destruction". We had been wiped out. Only 8 years earlier Hurricane Audrey had introduced herself to our parish, and now Betsy became the newest host of destruction. The levees were not strong enough or large enough to hold back her fury. She was determined to wipe out as much of our parish as possible and she did. Hurricane Betsy struck chords of sadness, broke hearts ruined lives, and took many lives away. She destroyed dreams, and left her mark. She was not the last, and for the residents of Plaquemines parish, she had driven a stake into the hearts of many.
But for some, we became more determined than ever to rebuild. What was around the corner, just 4 years later, would make Betsy look like the appetizer. But for now, we had a huge job ahead of us, and so was the task to begin.

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Hurricane Camille


Camille was spawned by a tropical wave that had moved off the African coast on the 5th of August. This inverted "V" cloud pattern traveled westward and was recognized as a tropical disturbance on the 9th, about 480 miles east of the northern Leeward islands.

The following day the disturbance, still showing no circulation, moved through the Leewards causing rains throughout the islands. Then each succeeding day, satellite pictures revealed increased curvature and banding. On the 14th reconnaissance aircraft flew into the disturbance, which they found south of Cuba. The penetration disclosed a 999 millibar pressure center and 55 mile per hour surface winds -- tropical storm Camille was christened.


The storm moved northwestward at 9 miles per hour; pressure fell to 991 millibars late on the 14th, and to 964 millibars with 115 mile per hour winds the following day. At this time, Camille was a full-blown hurricane located 60 miles southeast of Cape San Antonio, Cuba. Havana's weather radar tracked the hurricane across the western tip of Cuba on the evening of the 15th. Camille generated 92 mile per hour winds at Guane, and spread 10 inch rains over the western sections of the island. Three persons were reported killed.

Once into the Gulf of Mexico, the small, powerful hurricane intensified rapidly; by the early afternoon of the 16th, central pressure had dropped to 908 millibars. The severe storm plodded north-northwestward at 14 miles per hour. A hurricane watch had been put in effect from Biloxi, Mississippi, to St. Marks, Florida. By late afternoon, an Air Force reconnaissance team measured a 905 millibar pressure and recorded flight level (700 millibar) winds of 160 miles per hour.

Early on the 17th, with Camille 250 miles south of Mobile, and hurricane warnings extending westward to New Orleans, Mississippi coastal residents were boarding up homes and businesses and heading inland. As the day wore on, inland moving traffic increased as did the hurricane threat to low-lying areas. Radio and television stations carried ESSA warnings every few minutes, while Police and Civil Defense officials went into isolated areas to urge people to evacuate.

One last reconnaissance flight was made early Sunday afternoon (17th), and Air Force pilot Marvin A. Little and his crew found a central pressure of 901 millibars (26.91 inches) and maximum surface winds at more that 200 miles per hour (175 knots) near the center. Due to engine trouble, this was the last penetration made. Hurricane force winds extended out to 60 miles; Camille was a small, but extremely intense hurricane located less than 100 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was at its peak and was under surveillance of the New Orleans radar.

As Camille brushed southeastern Louisiana easterly winds ahead of the center and northerly winds to its west pushed a massive storm surge through the marshes of this area. Because of the shape of the bays and inlets, surge heights varied at different locations; water levels reached 9 feet above m.s.l. near the mouth of the Mississippi, at Garden Island. In several places, from the Empire Canal southward to Buras, Boothville, and Venice the surge poured over both the east and west bank Mississippi River levees and was trapped by the back levees, leaving the built-up areas between the levees severely flooded. The barometer in Port Sulpher, La. was blown out at over 200 miles per hour, which was the highest reading at the time. No one really knows what the maximum winds were in our area.


The center of Camille made landfall on the now nearly-deserted Mississippi coast at about10:30 pm., Central Standard Time, on the 17th; she passed over Clermont Harbor, Waveland, and Bay St. Louis. There were no records of winds near the center and estimates ranged up to 200 miles per hour. The storm surge reached a devastating 24.2 feet about m.s.l. at Pass Christian and was near 10 feet above m.s.l. as far east as the Mississippi- Alabama border. At the west end of the Bay St. Louis bridge there was a pressure report of 26.85 inches (909.3 millibars).

Camille weakened as she moved northward through Mississippi, passing close to Columbia, Prentis, Jackson, Canton, and Greenwood. Jackson's winds gusted to 67 miles per hour as the storm center passed 10 miles to the east. The radar at Jackson, which had picked up Camille's eye in the Gulf, followed the indentifiable circulation to southern Quitman County. The storm was only identifiable as a depression when it reached the northern Mississippi border.


The depression stages of Camille were tracked northeastward through western Tennessee, east-northeastward through central Kentucky, and eastward through extreme southern West Virginia and southern Virginia. Late on the 19th, a combination of factors interacted to produce several areas of concentrated, torrential rainfall that caused devastating flash floods and landslides along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and record flooding along the James River system.

The remnants of Camille's dying circulation moved into an area already occupied by a large, moist maritime-tropical air mass, with some existing rain areas. To the northwest of the area of maximum rainfall a narrow valley surrounded by steep ridges suggested that orographic effects on the cyclonic flow aided in producing the heavy precipitation. Thunderstorm activity ahead of a slowly approaching cold front may also have accentuated the heavy rain. In combination these meteorological factors( and perhaps others not yet ascertained) produced torrential rains which rank with other record rainfalls throughout the world. Several amounts of more than 25 inches were found on post examination, and amounts in excess of 4 inches fell over an area 20-40 miles wide and 120 miles long -- most of it occurring in a period of 8 hours.

Camille regained tropical storm intensity when she moved into the North Atlantic. However, on the 22nd, she was absorbed by a cold front about 175 miles southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.


Accurate wind measurements are almost impossible to obtain in a hurricane of Camille's intensity. Based on reconnaissance flight level winds and measured surface pressure, maximum surface winds were calculated at 175 knots (201.5 miles per hour), close to the center, early on the afternoon of the 17th. This calculation represents the maximum winds ever observed in a hurricane and based on something other than pure estimation. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 may have had more severe winds, but there is just no way of telling.

The highest actual measurement on a wind instrument was found on an Easterline Angus wind speed recorder which had been left running on a Tranworld Drilling Company rig located east of Boothville (Maine Pass Block 29). The recorder had been switched to double scale before evacuation and recorded an extreme gust of 172 miles per hour before the paper jammed and the trace was lost. An Air National Guard Weather Flight stationed at Gulfport Municipal Airport, estimated sustained winds in excess of 100 miles per hour and gust of 150-175 miles per hour. Other less reliable reports from the Gulfport-Bay St. Louis area indicated winds of 150-200 miles per hour. At Boothville, Louisiana, 107 mile per hour gusts were recorded before a power failure; at Pillot town, Louisiana, the SS CRISTOBAL estimated winds at 160 miles per hour.

Winds at Biloxi (Keesler Air Force Base) were measured at 81 miles per hour with gusts to 129 miles her hour late on the 17th. At Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula the highest sustained wind reached 81 miles per hour while a local radio station reported 104 mile per hour winds before a power failure.

West of the storm center hurricane force winds reached only the eastern edge of New Orleans; brief gusts of 60-85 miles per hour extended over most of the city. Eastern sections of St. Tammany and Washington Parishes were swept by intense winds estimated up to 160 miles per hour in gusts at Slidell and up to 130 miles per hour in gusts at Bogalusa and Angie.

Hurricane force winds were confined close to the storm's center as it move inland. These winds extended from east of New Orleans to Pascagoula, while gusts of hurricane force winds extended along the coast from New Orleans to just west of Mobile Bay and inland to just south of Jackson.


Camille's lowest pressure of 901 millibars (26.61 inches) was second only to that of the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, in which a 26.35 inch (892 millibar) pressure was recorded in the Florida Keys. This stands as the lowest pressure in the North Atlantic; the world record low pressure was recorded in typhoon Ida on September 24, 1958 -- 877millibars (25.90 inches).

The 908 millibar pressure recorded on the afternoon of August 16th marked the lowest ever recorded by reconnaissance aircraft in the North Atlantic; however, this was soon broken by the 905 millibar reading later in the day and the historic 901 millibar pressure the following day.

The lowest land pressure was observed by Mr. Charles A. Breath, Jr. of Bay St. Louis, in his home a few blocks from the west end of Bay St. Louis Bridge. He made the reading of 26.85 inches on his aneroid barometer as the eastern edge of Camille's eye passed overhead. His barometer was later checked and found to be accurate by the New Orleans Weather Bureau Office. Other low pressures included a 27.80 inch reading at Garden Island, Louisiana, and 27.90 inch at St. Stanislaus School in Bay St. Louis.


The storm surge generated by Camille flooded coastal areas from lower Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana to Perido Pass, Alabama. Flooding was most severe in the Pass Christian - Long Beach, Mississippi, area where tides up to 24.2 feet above m.s.l. were measured. In the St. Louis Bay maximum tides ran 18 feet above m.s.l., while in the Back Bay of Biloxi they were about 15 feet above m.s.l.

Maximum tides of 10 feet or more above m.s.l. extended from the Pearlington area to near the Mississippi - Alabama line. Maximum tides 15 feet or more above m.s.l. extended from Clermont Harbor to Ocean Springs.Maximum tides of 20 feet or more above m.s.l. were concentrated in an area from Bay St. Louis eastward to Edgewater Park. The highest measured surge of 24.2 feet above m.s.l. was measured within the city limits of Pass Christian; other measurements of 22.6 feet and 22.5 feet were also found at Pass Christian. Tides within the preceding ranges were lower in some areas. Flooding was also prevalent along rivers and bayous in Mississippi. Tides ran 13-17 feet above m.s.l. from the Jordan River (Waveland) to Old Fort Bayou (Ocean Springs).

Offshore surges were put at 15-16 feet above m.s.l. based on the flood marks measured at Ship and Cat Islands. The Coast Guard reported every buoy between New Orleans and Mobile was off station and that almost all of the navigational aids had been lost. In the Mobile Bay area tides ran about 7 feet above m.s.l.

The Louisiana storm surge that swept from Empire southward, flooded Boothville with 15 feet (above m.s.l.) of water. Water levels reached 9 feet near the mouth of the Mississippi, at Garden Island. The tidal Surge also flooded some parts of lower St. Bernard Parish and eastern sections of Orleans Parish. Tide heights reached 7.97 feet above m.s.l. at Alluvial City, 8.73 feet at Chef Menteur Pass, 11.06 feet at Shell Beach, and 9.00 feet at the Rigolets. Tides on Lake Ponchatrain reached 4.0 feet above m.s.l. at Manderville, 4.6 feet at Freneir, 5.2 feet at Slidell, and 5.5 feet at Slidell, and 5.5
feet at Madisonville.


Hurricane Camille ranks high as one of the most destructive killer storms ever to hit the U.S. Total damage has been estimated at $1.42 billion with 258 deaths and 68 additional persons missing -- this includes the Gulf Coast and the Virginias. In round figures, the damage equals the destruction caused by Hurricane Betsy, in a much more concentrated area, in September of 1965. Betsy and Camille stand together as the two most destructive storms to ever ravage the U.S.

While most of Betsy's damage was incurred by Louisiana, Camille spent most of her wrath in Mississippi; the total figure there is estimated at $950 million; Louisiana suffered $350 million mostly in lower Plaquemines Parish.

The total U.S. deaths figure was 258 with three persons reported dead in Cuba. The U.S. figure is the highest in a hurricane since 390 persons died during Hurricane

Audrey, which moved over western Louisiana in June 1957; most of these deaths, like those in Camille, were drownings.

Camille ripped a swath of destruction along the entire length of the Mississippi coast up to three or four blocks inland. She also destroyed some inland areas such as residential sections of West Gulfport and the Biloxi suburb of D'Iberville. In low areas the rows of houses stopped a block or two from the beach and beyond a row of debris were bare foundations along the beach front. From Pascagoula to Pass Christian, and to a lesser degree farther east and west, piles of lumber, building materials and trees were thrown together by the surge. In some cases, piles of debris extended for more than a block square. Highway 90, the main coastal thoroughfare, was covered with sand in many sections and completely washed away in other sections. About one-third of the Bay St. Louis Bridge and one-half of the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge were damaged when tides lifted the spans off their supports. The Army Corps of Engineers indicated that to make some 530 miles of roads passable, about 100,000 tons of debris had to be cleared away. Mr. M. James Stevens, Vice-President of the Mississippi Restaurant Association, reported that the Coast's resort industry suffered the worst disaster of any similar recreation area in the world. Along U.S. 90, in the Biloxi area, some 60 resort properties suffered damage with about one-half of them destroyed. Buildings on high knolls of about 20 feet or more were able to weather the high winds and survive the storm surge. Many buildings at the 10 feet level were crushed.

At Clermont Harbor, the destruction was total, and eastward to Bay St. Louis many hundreds of beach homes were destroyed. Henderson Point in the Pass Christian area was completely destroyed except for an old building that was formerly a maritime academy. In the Gulfport harbor, damage was severe. Three large cargo ships, the ALAMO VICTORY, the HULDA, and the SILVER HAWK were badly damaged and washed high aground at the north end of the harbor. At the banana wharf, all the sheet metal was stripped from the structures, but most of the framework was intact. On the west side of the harbor, most of the damage was to the lower walls of the buildings where the battering-ram effect of floating cargo carried the sides away. A large diesel fuel barge lifted out of the harbor, carried ashore, and deposited on the medial strip of U.S. 90. Farther up the beach was a large oil storage tank that had floated several miles from its original position.

The beautiful, modern marina fronting the Broadwater Beach Hotel at Biloxi appeared to be intact, but at close inspection the molded concrete covers over the boat slips had corners and pieces broken off by floating debris in the high water. Buildings along the waterfront were demolished and most of the boats were either sunk or had been washed away.

At Pascagoula's Ingalls Shipyard the large cargo ship, MORMACSUN, under construction, broke its moorings and was carried by a 12 foot rise of water onto high ground.

In Hancock County most residents live in low-lying areas. In the hamlets of Lake shore, Clermont Park, Pearlington, Ansley and the Cedar Point section of Bay St. Louis, destruction was almost complete. Storm surges of 15 feet and higher and devastating winds turned beach houses into stacks of driftwood. At the Mississippi Test Facility, southeast of Picayune, some 1600 refugees took shelter Sunday night (17th). The high winds and water knocked down some overhead powerl ines and flooded the underground lines. Emergency generators were put into use but operations at the facility were suspended until Tuesday.

In Pearl River County there was an estimated $35-40 million loss from damage. The county agent said that about 85 percent of the dairy barns in the county were either severely damaged or were a complete loss. About 35,000-40,000 acres or bearing tug trees were destroyed. There was an additional loss in timber and heavy damage was inflicted on the pecan crop. In Poplarville, the county seat, the mayor estimated that about 90 percent of the homes sustained damage in varying degrees.

There was electric power failure throughout 14 counties, from the coast to as far north as Simpson County. In some sections this loss lasted for several days. The South Mississippi Power Company had to almost completely rebuild their distribution system, and their transmission network was badly damaged. Camille's effects were also devastating on telephone service. Of Mississippi's 765,000 telephones, approximately 15 percent were out of service. In the Gulf Coast area this figure jumped to 67 percent.
The U.S. Forest Service made an aerial survey over a 14 county area of southern Mississippi, an area of 3.8 million acres, which revealed that about 1.9 million acres of commercial forest land in 12 counties received varying degrees of damage. Observations from the air indicated that hardwood forests suffered somewhat heavier damage than pine forests. Some of the hardwood forests were completely defoliated by severe winds. The Forest Service estimates damage to Mississippi saw timber at 1.8 billion board feet and to pulpwood at 1.4 million cords.

Damage in Louisiana was confined mainly to southeastern sections with some damage in the eastern part of the state. The storm surge generated by Camille swept the area from Empire southward clean. Most structures in this area, including some that had survived hurricane Betsy, were completely demolished by the combination of wind and water. The tidal surge also flooded some parts of lower St. Bernard Parish and eastern sections of Orleans Parish. Camille's intense winds were unusually small in a real extent, particularly to the west of the center. Damage in these areas was generally minor. However, eastern sections of St. Tammany and Washington Parishes were swept by intense winds and heavy rainfall (4-6 inches), and the heavily forested area received considerable damage. Lower Plaquemines parish was wiped out. Virtually nothing was left standing. By most accounts, buildings were leveled, homes destroyed, crops gone, and a horrible aftermath of destruction was all that remained. For us, life would never be the same. Friends moved away, vowing never to return to the parish they once called home. Insurance rates sky- rocketed, making rebuilding all most impossible for fear of having no insurance coverage. Lives shattered, dreams crushed, death, destruction, and heartache remained. For many native residents Camille was a painful reminder that life can change in the blink of an eye. That eye, the fateful eye of the storm. Although Camille isn't recorded as the most costly of hurricanes, at the time the damage was estimated at 1.4 billion, in 1998, that would be more than double(considering inflation). But the damage to our hearts is priceless, it cannot be measure by a dollar amount. It can never be expressed, the look of desperation that remained, told a story of it's own. My father returned after having surveyed the damage, and brought back some rusty drape hooks, which was all he could find. It was a time of great despair, and many were not even fortunate enough to find such a thing as this. As the weeks turned into months, we were allowed to go back to our parish to begin the rebuilding. But it was never the same. Some buildings were not rebuilt, taking many memories with them. They were gone forever. As were so many people that we used to call "neighbor". What Camille did on August 17th, 1969, was an ugly, horrible fact of life, that scarred many people and hurt many lives. It is written that Camille was the most destructive of hurricanes. In this I agree. She made her mark upon our parish, and permanently scarred our hearts.

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Hurricane Links

The Life of Hurricane Camille
The Life of Hurricane Betsy
Hurricane Info for Intermediates
Hurricane Camille Photograph Collection
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