Hurricane Camille and it's effects on American Legion Posts along the Gulf of Mexico
coastlines of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and inland northward into Virginia.
Hurricane Camille & American Legion Posts - Part 2

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Part of the beach front of Gulf Shores Alabama
after Hurricane Frederic. (Note: Picture added.)

     Nearby parts of Alabama will take long to recuperate from wind and water damage. To the East, the waterfront and flood damage was on a disaster scale running through Pascagoula and into Alabama, but, the wind force was not enough to cause great ruin beyond the coast.

(Note: Text added. Two days after Hurricane Camille had vented her incredible fury along the ninety-mile stretch of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Library Commission sent a team to the area to assess the damage to public libraries and see what could be done to help.

     Beginning at the east border of the State and moving westward, they learned that all units of the Jackson County Library System came through the storm unscathed. In fact, employees of the Pascagoula Library were sleeping there at night as utilities services to their homes had been disrupted. End of added text.)

(Note: Map added.) The map shows the area from
Pascagoula to Gulfport along the Gulf Coast.

     Pascagoula got off "light" compared to points west. That is, Pascagoula suffered severe damage that would have made National headlines in the absence of what happened over a 60 mile span to Pascagoula's west.

     But far inland, on the Louisiana side, enormous damage, and in some places economic ruin extended north for more than 50 miles.

     Because the 30 foot tidal surge borne on 205 mile winds did its most spectacular damage along the waterfront from the Biloxi area was photos of this waterfront area that were most often taken and published.

     Beyond the reach of the great wave, shells of buildings stood. Even if they were no longer usable, they did not make such impressive photos. Thus the realization that terrible damage extended far inland in the Western half of the State was not readily grasped by Americans elsewhere. Yet vast ruin stretched for an hour's drive inland due North of Bay Saint Louis. All of Harrison County suffered "terrible damage," Ralph Godwin told this magazine, and to the west of Harrison County, all of Hancock County was badly damaged." This is where some coastal towns were virtually destroyed.
(Note: Text added. This picture shows the intersection of Mississippi Route 49 from the north through central Gulfport, and Route 90 the Beach Boulevard, running east and west along coastal Gulfport. This is the area in Gulfport where the World famous Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is held each year during the 4th of July Ceremonies along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. End of added text.)

(Note: Map added.) Picayune, well inland from the Coast in Pearl River County, up against Louisiana, suffered extensive wind damage, as did Poplarville some 30 miles inland. Lumberton is 50 miles inland from the Coast. and suffered economic catastrophe. It is a center of an extensive tree crop economy. At Lumberton, trees producing millions of pounds of pecans were mostly uprooted, while the survivors stand with split trunks, broken branches and other wounds open to disease and insects. It was estimated that the pecan trees that could be salvaged (from 10% to 40% in various stands) would need $50 apiece spent on them, and it would take five years to get the next marketable pecan crop from them. Mostly little success, for some use for the wood of their lost trees a month after the terrible storm.
     In the Lumberton area, half of just one pine forest, representing 25 million board feet, was down. All told, six Mississippi tree-crop Counties suffered similarly, and the tung-oil industry reported "unsalvageable" because "all the trees are gone." Mississippi’s Coastal area shared with North Central Florida and some other Gulf areas, the United States growing of Oriental Tung Kernels, whose tung oil has numerous industrial uses, especially as a fast-drying ingredient in paints and varnishes. Forestry, now crippled in six Counties, had become Mississippi’s "number one industry." Tung Oil, now totally gone, had become southern Mississippi’s "biggest cash crop".

The Swimming Pool of the Gulf Palms Motel
in Gulfport, is all that remains showing
that it was once a motel.
     What this less spectacular damage means to the people affected, let alone the ravaging of the Coast, led Goodwin to write in his magazine, "No story, no picture, no TV, nothing, can give even an idea of the awful destruction, the gruesomeness of the situation, or of the terrible need that will exist, in my opinion, for at least a decade. I am still shaky today, on September 8th.

     If you, and all Americans could spend two or three days as I have done this week riding up and down the full length, about 50 to 60 miles, you would be shaky too!" With the storm gone from the headlines, it may soon fade from memory elsewhere. As Goodwin noted, the plight of Camille’s victims stretches out for perhaps ten years.

     Their property disappeared at the same time their jobs or businesses did too, and on a scale that no picture, nothing, can even suggest. It may be 100,000 or 200,000 people who lost what they had and lost their way of life too. The "continuing disaster" cannot be photographed. It is economic ruin for the most prosperous part of the State. Ruin that looms ahead with no end yet in sight.

"Devotion to Mutual Helpfulness"

(Note: Map and text added.)

This map shows the area from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Buras an further south. The distance from Gulfport to New Orleans is about 80 miles, and the distance from New Orleans is also about another 80 miles. Much of the land from the County Route
23 marker to Buras is "grassy marshland".
     At it’s National Convention in Atlanta, the American Legion started a relief
fund with the long-range plight of Camille’s victims in mind. The economic facts are almost indigestible. If the Legion should raise a half a million dollars nationally, which would be an excellent response to such an appeal, it would barley equal
what local Legionnaires lost simply in damage to their Post Homes in Gulfport, Biloxi, Standard, and Bay Saint Louis in Mississippi…and Bogalusa and Buras in Louisiana. Buras, far down in Louisiana’s Delta area in Plaquemines Parish, got it as bad as any Mississippi city. Where the neat brick Legion Post Home in Buras once stood, there remained a sort of "saucer of wet sand" and a few chairs to show for it. The rest of Buras, after being tossed around on wind and wave, was left like a child leaves his toys after a temper tantrum.(Note: Text added. The map shows the area between Biloxi/Gulfport to southward to Buras, La. End of added text.)

Our Preamble to The American Legion Constitution says it best, "…devotion to mutual helpfulness." This phrase is more than just mere words on paper; it’s our pledge of support to our distressed comrades. Since the early 1920’s, The American Legion has been actively involved in meeting the needs of both the community and individual Legion family members in the wake of disaster.

    Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires…The American Legion National
Emergency Fund was born out of natural disasters to compassionately heal the
wounds of catastrophe and help save their homes. A major disaster could happen to any Legionnaire in any town at anytime and make them homeless.

     The National Emergency Fund has provided over $3,000,000 in direct financial
assistance to Legion family members and Posts. The National Emergency Fund has kept Posts from closing and enabled Legion family members to begin to rebuild their homes and their lives.

Post 119 in Gulfport Mississippi

     Post 119 in Gulfport Mississippi was a more than $200,000 beauty, with a new
$43,000 addition. The "busted shell" that remained was worth less than nothing, and it had to be removed. One has no difficulty understanding why Post 119 in Gulfport was demolished.

     The force of the elements was so great that part of it's flag staff was carried into
Louisiana. Legionnaire Leon Jackson of Denham Springs Louisiana found it buried
in mud outside of Hammond Louisiana, about 80 miles from Gulfport.

(Note: Text added. At the time of Camille, Post 119 was located directly on Route 90. There was nothing between the Post and the sand beach. After Camille, the debris of the Post were scattered all over the surrounding area. A new Post Home, at it's present location, was dedicated in March of 1971. End of added text.)

View a picture of the new Post 119 Gulfport Post Home


Post 139 in Bay Saint Louis

     On August 9th, (Note: Text added. before Camille, End of added text.) Post 139 in Bay Saint Louis sent 40 Boy Scouts and their Leaders on a trip to the Smoky Mountains in its "Youth Bus".

     The fine brick Post Home of Post 139 in Bay Saint Louis, a Post that involved 800 youngsters in Legion Youth Programs, was valued at over $100,000.      

     The bent roof remained standing on 11 gaunt uprights. Between them the breezes blew, for there was nothing there but the outdoors.

Post 58 in Standard Mississippi

What remained of the $13,000 Post 58 in Standard.

     The lakeside Home of Post 58 in Standard, just North of Pass Christian, was (at the time of Camille) Mississippi’s newest Post Home. It was a modest $13,000 building, painfully financed by 57 Members. The broken roof sat on the ground, and was surrounded by cinder blocks.

(Note: Text added. Standard, just north of Pass Christian, is very near the open waters of the Bay Of Saint Louis. There was little or nothing to break the winds and water between the Bay Of Saint Louis and buildings in Standard. Although not much was written or seen in the media about Standard, the destruction to the structures was similar that the which occurred in Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, Bay Saint Louis, and all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. End of added text.)

The Article Continues With Part 3
"The Continuing Disaster on the Gulf Coast"   Part 1
Camille Part 2
Camille Part 3
Camille Part 4
National Hurricane Center Camille Maps and Charts