The Nelson County Historical Society has established an endowment for its Hurricane Camille Resource Center to support continuing its mission to collect and make available documents, photographs, videos and artifacts from the 1969 flood.
The August 1969 storm event claimed the lives of 124 people and caused millions of dollars in damage in Nelson County.
The Historical Society raised funds for the 50th anniversary of Camille in 2019 to enhance its existing exhibit on the storm’s impact at Oakland Museum through donations, a concert and sales of a book, “Commemorating Camille,” with more than 200 photographs showing the damage done to its many communities.
“The $25,000 endowment will be used to ensure the continued preservation of artifacts and stories related to the tragic events of August 1969 and to remember those who lost their lives and the many heroes who responded during the crisis,” said Debbie Harvey, president of the Society’s board of directors, in a news release.
The exhibit’s newest features are a Camille television channel and binders with newspaper articles from area and regional newspapers for visitors to view. A recent visitor found an article on a close relative with information that confirmed family stories and provided more information on her experience in Howardsville, Harvey said.
The television channel includes a 12-minute overview of the flood’s impact with photos taken just after the event and interviews with nine people who experienced it. Also on the channel is a video showing aerial and on-the-ground photos taken of the Tyro and Muddy Creek communities two years before and right after the flood, giving viewers a graphic side-by-side comparison of the damage wrought by more than two feet of rain in a six-hour period.
The channel also includes numerous oral history interviews, documentaries by various media outlets and a slideshow of maps that trace the flooding and landslides that caused so much damage.
New artifacts on display include a radio used during the flood and an exhibit of cans of food airlifted to survivors’ families.
A plaque with donor’s names outside the door to the exhibit recognizes those who contributed.
Future plans include an outdoor pavilion by the parking lot to introduce visitors to what is inside the museum with panels on Camille and a map showing the areas of greatest destruction and additions to the television channel of photographs, videos and interviews.
Oakland Museum, at 5365 Thomas Nelson Highway near Colleen, is open 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.