On the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Camille, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors officially declared Aug. 20 as a day of remembrance for the county.

At its August meeting, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Camille. The board honored the passing of the resolution Monday by placing a bright wreath with colorful flowers next to the Hurricane Camille memorial at the courthouse in Lovingston.

“Therefore be it resolved by the Nelson County Board of Supervisors that August 20, 2019 is hereby declared a day of remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Camille; saluting all those who helped in the recovery from this disaster,” Larry Saunders, chairman of the board and South district representative, read from the resolution.

Hurricane Camille was a Category 5 storm when it made landfall in Mississippi; its remnants tore through Nelson County the night of Aug. 19, 1969, and into the following morning. The heavy rains caused intense landslides and extreme flooding, killing 1% of the county’s population in just a few hours.

A small crowd gathered for the wreath placing Monday morning to remember the lives lost, but also how the county recovered from the disaster. Co-chairs of the Camille Steering Committee Deborah Harvey and Phil Payne attended. The Camille Steering Committee, made of eight residents who were present when the flood hit, was responsible for planning a number of Hurricane Camille commemoration events sponsored by the Nelson County Historical Society. The final event, a commemoration service on the 50th anniversary, was held at Nelson County High School on Sunday.

Other members of the audience included Nelson County Public School Division Superintendent Martha Eagle; County Administrator Steve Carter; steering committee member Dick Whitehead; Jesse Rutherford, East district representative on the board; and Ernie Reed, Central district representative on the board.

Saunders told the crowd before the storm hit unexpectedly that night 50 years ago, the day was sunny and humid much like the one the crowd was experiencing Monday.

“It is a morning pretty similar to August 19, 1969,” Saunders said to the crowd.

Rutherford and Reed placed the wreath next to the memorial while Saunders read the resolution to the public.

Woody Greenberg, secretary of the historical society, said the society is grateful to the board of supervisors for its sponsorship.

“We gave each of them a ‘Commemorating Camille’ book as a token for our thanks,” Greenberg said.

“Commemorating Camille” recently was released by the historical society in honor of the 50th anniversary. According to the Nelson County Historical Society’s website, the book contains photos and text recounting the effect of Hurricane Camille on Nelson County’s land and people in 1969. It features more than 150 photographs in color and black and white, many rarely seen before, and covers the weather phenomenon that caused the storm.

According to the resolution, Hurricane Camille dumped as much as 31 inches of rain in five hours, killed at least 124 people, and caused $100 million in property damages across the county. After the resolution was read, Saunders called for a moment of silence before the crowd dispersed, remembering the tragedy that struck 50 years ago.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County. Reach her at (434) 385-5524 or econway@newsadvance.com.

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