Chicago, IL USA:
Forty years ago -- it was on a Sunday-- that my Family (minus my Brother, Joe) were in New Orleans - a town known for its loveliness that was soon to be shattered by (at that time) the worst Hurricane to hit American Shores. Fearing we were going to die, my Mother made the 'last' phone call to Joey who was safe, sound and warm in Mendota, IL, a small farming community that only a week before had celebrated its annual Sweet Corn Festival. Just 8 days before I had celebrated my 17TH Birthday and had anticipated this vacation in a city I was quite interested in.
Not only that - it was my birthday weekend, as the Fest always occurred around August 9TH -- and I had just made 17 years old, an age way to young in which to die...
As Hurricane Camille approached...
Actually, the day started out very calm - what they call the Calm before the Storm. Wanting to see and experience N'awlins as they called it, we 4 walked from Motel Tamanaka (where Fats Domino often resided) to the French Quarters and had those delicious donuts, beneighs with the powdered sugar and sat and chatted with others.
The town prepared for the storm by taking large pieces of tape and taping the glass windows of each shop so that if and when the glass shattered, it would be in shards and not splinters.
By mid-afternoon we were back in our 2nd Story Motel Room, a hand-rail was outside our doorway. We were hungry. Mom walked to the restaurant below, only to find the workers were packing up to go home, but they fixed us chicken sandwiches which she bought back to the room.
Gripping the handrail, Dad was swooped up by winds and 'fell' back into the room, our motel room that was open as we 'waited' for and waited out the storm.
Although the winds were to be 200 MPH, the roughest hurricane to hit New Orleans, the speeds were clocked at 80 MPH and the scare factor alone was something we will always remember.
The next day we left New Orleans, never to return as a family again. The line of cars leaving the City was miles long -- as everyone bided their time -- anxious to get back to higher ground.
450 miles later were in Little Rock, Arkansas where we spent the night. Since that point, I have always felt particularly thankful for having made it through this Event and have felt I am living on borrowed time -- precious time that so far -- has just marked its 40th Year since.
As I thought of this date, it made me feel again sad to know that this marks the 40th Anniversary of those who had lost loved ones in that horrific storm. Just previously in April, the Mendota Township High School Band had visited the Biloxi/Gulfport area, performing for its citizens. From reports, many of those people had lost their lives; finding bodies in the trees of those who were not lucky enought (as my family & I were) to have ridden out the storm of a lifetime -- if not more...
This lead me to do more research and I found that: Out of curiosity around 5 PM today, I googled Hurricane Camille to see what had been put up online about 'her' as in 1969 there was no Internet Access.
an interesting article appeared that in part said:
Hurricane Camille is a bench mark in the American hurricane experience. Although Camille hit an area that had a relatively small population by today's standards - it still provided a horrific firsthand lesson of what a hurricane of maximum intensity can do to the man-made environment. Hurricane Andrew (1992) destroyed more property, and Hurricane Katrina resulted in many more fatalities - but Hurricane Camille remains the strongest storm to ever enter the United States mainland on record.
Classmates of my School (located 100 miles southwest of Chicago) who had visited the area then boxed up goods that were sent to the area after the storm, when school finally got started. To this day, I always light a candle on August 17TH. And as an Eventologist have made:
August 17TH of each year a HOLIDATE known as Weather Watch Day (C)1994.
Weather is interesting -- yet it's best not to rile up Mother Nature as her rath can be quite tumultuous and an experience that will never quite be forgotten.
In 1995, Angus Lind of the Time Picayune called me to do an article on another one of my HOLIDATES at which time I told him I had visited his city in the late 60s as a Teenager, but it was not for the Mardi Gras or a Family Vacation I had initially planned. He took my lead and comemnts and noted that in the article he printed...a tactic that many reporters do, making a link-up with the subject and their town. After all, sometimes those 6 Degrees of Separation cannot be separated by a few miles.
Postedby: ASK: Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith
Author of: SKiN
August 17, 2009 - 6:54 AM CST
Update: 5:12 PM CST