hurricane Camille, salvage home

Charlie and Josey Watson salvage what was left of their home after Hurricane Camille ripped through.

© Jim Sugar/Corbis

Andrew is one of only three Category 5 hurricanes to hit the U.S. since 1900. Another was Camille, a nasty storm that brought heavy flooding and 200-mph (320-kph) winds to the Gulf Coast and later Virginia. After forming near the Cayman Islands in August 1969, the storm first blew through Cuba at a Category 3 level and later intensified on its way to Mississippi. It weakened to a tropical storm before it reached Virginia, but Camille continued to pour upward of 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain as well as flash flooding and mudslides on a region just 120 miles (193 kilometers) from the nation's capital. The storm resulted in 256 deaths and more than $1.4 billion in damage [source: National Weather Service].

Camille played an important role in hurricane tracking in that it spawned the creation of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which ranks storms from categories 1 to 5 based on wind speed. Category 1 hurricanes blow winds ranging from 74 to 95 miles (119 to 153 kilometers), while those in the Category 5 range feature wind speeds of more than 156 miles (251 kilometers) an hour. The system is designed to give residents in danger zones a better idea of what to expect from a brewing storm [source: University of Rhode Island].