NEW ORLEANS — The State of Mississippi is remembering the victims of Hurricane Camille as the 50th anniversary of the storm's landfall approaches this week.
Camille made landfall as a category 5 hurricane near Waveland, Miss. in the nighttime hours of August 17, 1969. It is ranked as the second most intense hurricane of record to strike the United States -- one of only four category 5 hurricanes.
According to the National Hurricane Center, 256 people were killed by a combination of winds, storm surge and rain (143 on the Gulf Coast and 113 in flooding in Virginia). It also caused $1.42 billion in damage.
Monday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared the week leading up to the anniversary as "Hurricane Camille 50th Anniversary Week" to remember the lives lost in the storm.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said lessons learned after Camille led to the creation of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The scale rates storms from categories 1 to 5, with any storm with wind speeds greater than 157 mph is labeled a Category 5 storm. MEMA says a re-analysis of Camille found wind speeds nearing 200 mph.
"Through tragedy comes wisdom. We learned a lot from that tragedy and how to better prepare for and survive the awesome power of mother nature," MEMA Executive Director Greg Michel said.
Hurricane Katrina left lasting scars on the Hurricane Camille Memorial in Biloxi located at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.
The church reached out to the Biloxi Fire Department which, in turn, reached out to Lodging and Leisure Investments for help in returning the memorial to its best condition in light of the storm's upcoming 50th anniversary.
Officials tell WLOX-TV restoring the tile mosaic is the greatest challenge in the project. Other work includes power washing and cleaning each name on the memorial's walls.
Camille's 50th anniversary will include a memorial service at the memorial site at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17. Afterward, a program will be held at the Seafood & Maritime Industry Museum at 6 p.m.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.