August 19, 1969 is a date that most people in Nelson County are very familiar with. On this date, one of the worst flooding disasters in Virginia's history took place from one of the strongest hurricanes to ever strike the United States. The storm was named Camille and Virginia residents will always remember its fury.
Hurricane Camille made landfall as a category 5 storm along the Mississippi coastline - one of only a a handful of storms to make landfall in the United States at this strength. The winds weakened as it quickly moved inland, but it kept copious amounts of tropical moisture as it moved off toward the northeast. Its track was taking it on a path toward Virginia, but even meteorologists couldn't imagine what would take place next.
The rain started falling in the evening in Nelson County and quickly picked up in intensity. Rainfall rates of five to six inches per hour were reported by some. The rain continued to come down in torrents clear through the night. By the time the last raindrops fell, the totals were mind-boggling and the scope of the damage unprecedented.
There are estimates that more than 30 inches of rain fell that night in parts of Nelson County. That's the equivalent of picking up 75% of the average yearly rainfall - in one night. That much water in that period of time lead to disastrous floods and landslides throughout the county. Roads and bridges were washed out, cattle swept away, entire sides of mountains crumbled down to the valleys below, and there was significant loss of life. More than 120 people lost their lives in Nelson County that night as the remnants of Camille moved through. The amount of debris littering the county was staggering and cleanup was an enormous task.
What are your memories of this catastrophic flooding? Do you have any pictures to share? If you have comments leave them at the bottom of this blog and pictures can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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