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'Deadliest natural disaster in Virginia history' | 50 years ago Hurricane Camille hit the Commonwealth

The Hurricane caused river flooding, mudslides, prolonged power outages, and it washed out roadways and structures in Virginia.

RICHMOND, Va. — Fifty years ago, on August 19, 1969, Hurricane Camille hit Virginia and caused inland flooding and mudslides, and killed over 150 people.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said the devastation remains Virginia’s deadliest natural disaster a half-century later.

In one night, the storm dropped the equivalent of six months’ worth of rain, 27 inches, on Nelson County. It caused river flooding, mudslides, prolonged power outages, and it washed out roadways and structures.

In 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast as a Category 5 storm. It was blamed for 256 U.S. deaths, three in Cuba.

The morning after the storm Virginians found over 100 bridges, roadways or railways had been washed away or damaged, bringing transportation to a standstill, and more than 900 buildings and structures damaged or destroyed, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

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Now, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) is encouraging Virginians to use the anniversary as a cue to be prepared, not scared. Camille reminds us that hurricanes are a statewide threat, not just a coastal concern, as the worst damage occurred hundreds of miles inland.

Each year state, federal and local governments, private-sector entities and non-profits work together to prepare the Commonwealth, and its residents, for all hazards, including hurricanes.

The annual Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30, but the peak of Atlantic hurricane season typically happens from mid-August to late October.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management said Prevention, protection, and mitigation before a disaster makes the response and recovery more sustainable and successful. 

RELATED: Are you prepared for hurricane season and flooding?

Here's a list of steps to take to prepare for hurricanes and other hazards:

  • Visit DCR.virginia.gov/vfris to learn your flood risk
  • Contact an insurance agent or call the National Flood Insurance Program at 888.379.9531 or Floodsmart.gov to purchase a flood insurance policy. 
  • Learn your evacuation zone, and make a plan to prepare their home and business at KnowYourZoneVA.org.
  • Store all critical documentation in a safe place, document the condition of your property before damages occur, purchase emergency preparedness item, and make a family communication plan. Visit VAemergency.gov/hurricanes to learn more.

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