Nelson Remembers Hurricane Camille, 45 Years Later - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Nelson Remembers Hurricane Camille, 45 Years Later

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Forty-five years later, Nelson County is looking back on the worst natural disaster to hit the region.

Hurricane Camille washed away homes, roads, and more than 100 lives in just one night. Roads were washed out and covered in layers of mud and storm debris when the hurricane hit overnight on August 19, 1969.

Saturday, the community gathered at Nelson United Methodist Church to commemorate that day.

Johnny Ponton is one survivor who shared his story at Saturday's commemoration. He went to help a friend whose basement was flooding, when a jammed door trapped them both.

"The first wave of water came through and pushed both of us up into the basement, I assumed he was dead and he assumed I was dead,” Ponton said.

Ponton says he nearly drowned twice that night. But that was far from the worst part.

"A week later, you watched for buzzards. It's a terrible thing to say, but the buzzards knew where the dead bodies were,” Ponton said. “When you went into a pile of debris, you were relieved when you found out it was a cow and not a person.”

Survivors came together with the community to share the experiences that forever connect them in Nelson County's history.

"This was an overwhelming event of biblical proportions but there's so many tales of heroism and survival that I think really speak highly of the people that are here,” said Fifth District Representative Robert Hurt (R).

Ponton said, "Natural disasters, in my opinion, bring out the best in everybody once it's over.”

The storm survivors present Saturday expressed just how grateful they are now for all of the first responders who volunteer to help people in desperate need, as they were 45 years ago.

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