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Camille, 1969

Camille, 1969: Histories of a Hurricane

Mark M. Smith
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 90
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  • Book Info
    Camille, 1969
    Book Description:

    Thirty-six years before Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and southern Mississippi, the region was visited by one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the United States: Camille. Mark M. Smith offers three highly original histories of the storm's impact in southern Mississippi. In the first essay Smith examines the sensory experience and impact of the hurricane-how the storm rearranged and challenged residents' senses of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. The second essay explains the way key federal officials linked the question of hurricane relief and the desegregation of Mississippi's public schools. Smith concludes by considering the political economy of short- and long-term disaster recovery, returning to issues of race and class. Camille, 1969 offers stories of survival and experience, of the tenacity of social justice in the face of a natural disaster, and of how recovery from Camille worked for some but did not work for others. Throughout these essays are lessons about how we might learn from the past in planning for recovery from natural disasters in the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3954-2
    Subjects: History, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. CHAPTER ONE The Sensory History of a Natural Disaster
    (pp. 1-20)

    Official metrics of Category Five hurricanes—maximum sustained winds of at least 155 miles an hour, barometric pressure below 920 millibars, and a storm surge of eighteen or more feet—don’t quite capture the raw power of the phenomenon. The sheer intensity is hard to convey. Big hurricanes, such as Camille, provide enough energy in a few hours’ time sufficient to supply the United States with a year’s worth of electricity; the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was measured in millitons but the energy from Category Five hurricanes is measured best in thousands of megatons; the winds of a Category...

    (pp. 21-35)

    I begin this chapter by contradicting the first. I begin, also, with a quotation. The quotation is from the Congressional Globe, March 29, 1867. We join Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the floor of the U.S. Senate as he offers an amendment to a bill providing federal relief for broken levees in Mississippi. Keep in mind the year and context: 1867, in the cauldron of Reconstruction.

    I am unwilling that Congress should seem in any way to commit itself to so very great an expenditure in one of these States, except with the distinct understanding that it shall not be...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Political Economy of Disaster Recovery
    (pp. 36-54)

    By any measure, the economic cost of Hurricane Camille was staggering. Over six thousand destitute families were counted in September alone; the hotels, businesses, and homes that once populated the eighty-mile length of the Gulf Coast where Camille slammed ashore “lay flattened.” Two towns in particular, Pass Christian and Long Beach, had been “virtually blown away from the face of the earth.” Early, rough estimates were staggering: over two hundred dead, twelve thousand homes destroyed or very severely damaged, and six hundred businesses gone. About one-third of Mississippi’s economy had vanished.¹

    In this chapter, the questions I wish to ask...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 55-68)
  10. Index
    (pp. 69-71)