On the 50th anniversary of the devastating flooding from remnants of Hurricane Camille, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors 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 the worst natural disaster in Virginia history. 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, chair of the board and South District representative, read from the resolution.

Hurricane Camille was a category five storm when it came ashore in Mississippi along the Gulf Cost. It later tore through Nelson County the night of Aug. 19, 1969, and early morning of Aug. 20, 1969. The storm's heavy rains caused intense landslides and extreme flooding, killing more than 100 people in a few short hours. 

A small crowd gathered for the wreath placing Monday morning to remember the lives lost, but also to recall how the county recovered from the disaster. The Camille Steering Committee, made up of eight residents who were present when the flooding hit, was responsible for planning a number of different 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. 

"It is a morning pretty similar to Aug. 19, 1969," Saunders said.

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.

County Supervisors Jesse Rutherford and Ernie Reed placed the wreath next to the memorial while Saunders read the resolution to the public.

According to the resolution, the storm 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 from the crowd before they dispersed, remembering the tragedy that struck 50 years ago.

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

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