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Camille, 1969

Histories of a Hurricane

Mark M. Smith

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures

Cover, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix

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pp. xi-xiv

When Dr. Sarah Gardner invited me to deliver the Lamar Memorial Lectures at Mercer University in October 2009, I was deeply flattered. The lectures are-quite rightly-recognized as the most important lecture series on southern history and literature in the United States. I follow in the footsteps of some exceptional scholars, including...

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pp. xv-xvi

First and foremost, I wish to offer a hearty thank you to Mercer University's Lamar Memorial Lectures Committee for the extraordinarily kind and deeply flattering invitation to deliver the 2009 Lamar lectures. Committee members and Mercer faculty members made my visit...

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CHAPTER ONE: The Sensory History of a Natural Disaster

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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...

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CHAPTER TWO: Desegregating Camille: Civil Rights, Disaster Rights

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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...

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CHAPTER THREE: The Political Economy of Disaster Recovery

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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...


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pp. 55-67


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pp. 69-71

E-ISBN-13: 9780820339542
E-ISBN-10: 0820339547
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820337227
Print-ISBN-10: 0820337226

Page Count: 90
Illustrations: 8 b&w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures
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OCLC Number: 724415318
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Camille, 1969

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Subject Headings

  • Natural disasters -- Social aspects -- Mississippi -- Gulf Coast -- History -- 20th century.
  • Disaster relief -- Mississippi -- Gulf Coast -- History -- 20th century.
  • Gulf Coast (Miss.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Hurricanes -- Social aspects -- Mississippi -- Gulf Coast -- History -- 20th century.
  • Gulf Coast (Miss.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Gulf Coast (Miss.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Senses and sensation -- Mississippi -- Gulf Coast -- History -- 20th century.
  • Hurricane Camille, 1969 -- Historiography.
  • Hurricane Camille, 1969.
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