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Never forget: Hurricane Camille 50 years later

Nelson County Museum of Rural History releases new Hurricane Camille photo book

NELSON COUNTY, Va. – It was August 19, 1969 when Hurricane Camille dumped 27 inches of rain over Nelson County. 

Ed Tinsley, a Virginia State trooper was called into work. His job that night was to find survivors. 

"She said, 'I ain't got time to tell you, but when you come across the bridge in Lynchburg, you'll see something going on," Tinsley said.

Tinsley, who was 32 at the time, audio recorded what he saw every day. One recording says, "If I record this now and tell it later, it will never be as great as it is then, by looking at it."

Fifty years later, Tinsley said, "The medical examiner, the dentist, the investigator and everybody else that worked on the body identification, in Nelson County. Ain't but one of them still living; you're looking at him."

A total of 125 people died, 33 bodies were never found and to this day, eight victims have never been identified. 

"Even with today's technology, they could not have predicted what we did have," Tinsley said.

Camille changed how first responders across the state communicated. 

"You review what you had because somewhere in the future, you might have something similar to this," Tinsley said. 

The county changed its zoning and flood plain ordinances, too. 

"There's much more attention paid now to where you locate a business or house in Nelson County," said Woody Greenberg, secretary of Nelson County Historical Society. 

To help educate future generations, the county created an exhibit at the Nelson County Museum of Rural History. 

"Its important to the people who are related to the victims that the memory of those victims, what they suffered and how the county bounced back is kept alive," Greenberg said.

 And Greenberg hopes a newly released picture book will help people to never forget. 

"The funds that we raised go to improving and enhancing the Camille exhibit. We hope that people will want to get it," Greenberg said.

Softcover books cost $30 and hardcover are $40.

Go to nelsonhistorical.org to order a picture book or pick one up at the museum Monday, Wednesday and Friday.