In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people were preparing to have a
"hurricane party" in the face of a storm named Camille. Were they ignorant of
the dangers? Could they have been overconfident? Did they let their egos and pride
influence their decision? We will never know.
What we do know is that the wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when
Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the Beach less than 250
feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink
in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You
all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm's getting worse." But
as other joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta's order to leave.
"This is my land," one of them yelled back. "If you want me off, you'll
have to arrest me."
Peralta didn't arrest anyone, but he wasn't able to persuade them to leave either. He
wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to
party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but
they had no intention of leaving.
It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked
Camille's wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record. Raindrops
hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and
twenty-eight feet high.
News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of
motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some
twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was
left of that three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a
five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day.
Christian Values Qs Quarterly, Spring/Summer 1994, Page 10.
In U.S. Navel Institute Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch
illustrates the importance of obeying the Laws of the Lighthouse.
Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy
weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the
bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on
the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.
Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, "Light, bearing on the
"Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out.
The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain," which meant we were on a dangerous
collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: 'We are on a
collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the signal, "Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees."
The captain said, "Send: "I'm a captain, change course twenty degrees.'"
"I'm a seaman second-class," came the reply. "You had better change
course twenty degrees."
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send: 'I'm a battleship.
Change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
We changed course.
Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991,
Some years ago a fearful railroad wreck took a dreadful toll of life and limb in an
eastern state. A train, loaded with young people returning from school, was stalled on a
suburban track because of what is known as a "hot-box." The limited was soon
due, but a flagman was sent back to warn the engineer in order to avert a rear-end
collision. Thinking all was well, the crowd laughed and chatted while the train-hands
worked on in fancied security. Suddenly the whistle of the limited was heard and on came
the heavy train and crashed into the local, with horrible effect.
The engineer of the limited saved his own life by jumping, and some days afterwards was
hailed into court to account for his part in the calamity. And now a curious discrepancy
in testimony occurred. He was asked, "Did you not see the flagman warning you to
He replied, "I saw him, but he waved a yellow flag. I took it for granted all
was well, and so went on, though slowing down."
The flagman was called, "What flag did you wave?"
"A red flag, but he went by me like a shot."
"Are you sure it was red?"
Both insisted on the correctness of their testimony, and it was demonstrated that
neither was color-blind. Finally the man was asked to produce the flag itself as evidence.
After some delay he was able to do so, and then the mystery was explained. It had been
red, but it had been exposed to the weather so long that all the red was bleached out, and
it was but a dirty yellow!
Oh, the lives eternally wrecked by the yellow gospels of the day -- the bloodless
theories of unregenerate men that send their hearers to their doom instead of stopping
them on their downward road!
H.A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth, Moody Press, 1945,
It pays to heed a warning.
Argentinean race driver Juan Manuel Fangio discovered that after the opening lap of the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix. As he
approached a dangerous bend for the second time, Fangio noticed that something was wrong. The faces of the spectators, which he
usually saw as a whitish blur as he drove by, were all turned away from him.
"If they are not looking at me," Fangio thought, "they must be looking at something more interesting around the
corner." So he braked hard and carefully rounded the bend, where he saw that his split second assessment had been accurate. The
road was blocked by a massive pileup.
Today in the Word, February 9, 1993.
I was in the north of England in 1881, when a fearful storm swept over that part of the country. A friend of mine, who was a
minister at Evemouth, had a great many of the fishermen of the place in his congregation. It had been very stormy weather, and
the fishermen had been detained in the harbor for a week. One day, however, the sun shone out in a clear blue sky; it seemed as
if the storm had passed away, and the boats started out for the fishing ground. Forty-one boats left the harbor that day.
Before they started, the harbor-master hoisted the storm signal, and warned them of the coming tempest. He begged of them not to
go; but they disregarded his warning, and away they went. They saw no sign of the coming storm. In a few hours, however, it
swept down on that coast, and very few of those fishermen returned. There were five or six men in each boat, and nearly
all were lost in that dreadful gale. In the church of which my friend was pastor, I believe there were three male members left.
Those men were ushered into eternity because they did not give heed to the warning. I lift up the storm signal now, and warn
you to escape from the coming judgment!
Moody's Anecdotes, Page 115-116.
During the 1982 war in the Falkland Islands between England and Argentina, the Royal Navy's 3,500-ton destroyer HMS Sheffield
was sunk by a single missile fired from an Argentine fighter jet. It caused some people to wonder if modern surface warships were
obsolete, sitting ducks for today's sophisticated missiles. But a later check revealed that the Sheffield's defenses did pick up
the incoming missile, and the ship's computer correctly identified it as a French-made
Exocet. But the computer was programmed to ignore Exocets as "friendly." The Sheffield was
sunk by a missile it saw coming and could have evaded.
Today in the Word, May 12, 1992.
Teenagers are much more inclined to take warnings about steroids seriously if the drugs' muscle-building benefits are acknowledged
in the same speech, say doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University. That was the case when the doctors lectured nine
high school football teams on the effects of steroids. They found that football players who heard a balanced presentation on
steroids were 50 percent more likely to believe that the drugs could harm their health than those who were told just of the
dangers. This isn't the only instance where scare tactics have been known to fail.
In spite of a massive, ongoing campaign on the hazards of cigarette smoking, millions continue to light up.
Health experts might be more successful if they acknowledged pleasurable
aspects of smoking. Then once they had a smoker's attention, they could let loose on why it's time to quit.
Spokesman Review, November 13, 1991, p. C1.
During the Revolutionary War, a loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters of Hessian commander Colonel Johann
Rall, carrying an urgent message. General George Washington and his Continental army had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning and
were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey where the Hessians were encamped. The spy was denied an audience with the commander and
instead wrote his message on a piece of paper. A porter took the note to the Hessian colonel, but because Rall was involved in a
poker game he stuffed the unread note into his pocket. When the guards at the Hessian camp began firing their muskets in a futile
attempt to stop Washington's army, Rall was still playing cards. Without time to organize, the Hessian army was captured. The
battle occurred the day after Christmas, 1776, giving the colonists a late present--their first major victory of the war.
Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 21.
Thanks to the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, everyone has heard of the "midnight ride of Paul Revere." But few have heard of
Israel Bissel, a humble post rider on the Boston-New York route. After the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775,
Bissel was ordered to raise the alarm in New Haven, Connecticut. He reached Worchester, Mass., normally a day's ride, in two
hours. There, according to tradition, his horse promptly dropped dead. Pausing only to get another mount, Bissel pressed on and
by April 22 was in New Haven--but he didn't stop there! He rode on to New York, arriving April 24, and then stayed in the saddle
until he reached Philadelphia the next day. Bissel's 126 hour, 345 mile ride signaled American militia units throughout the
Northeast to mobilize for war.
Today in the Word, October 1, 1991.
On September 21, 1938, a hurricane of monstrous proportions struck the East Coast of the United States. William Manchester,
writing about it his book The Glory and the Dream, says that "the
great wall of brine struck the beach between Babylon and Patchogue (Long Island, New York) at 2:30 p.m. So mighty was the power of
that first storm wave that its impact registered on a seismograph in Sitka, Alaska, while the spray, carried northward at well over
a hundred miles an hour, whitened windows in Montpelier, Vermont. As the torrential 40-foot wave approached, some Long Islanders
jumped into cars and raced inland. No one knows precisely how many lost that race for their lives, but the survivors later
estimated that they had to keep the speedometer over 50 mph all the way."
For some reason the meteorologists--who should have known what was coming and should have warned the public--seemed
strangely blind to the impending disaster. Either they ignored their instruments or simply couldn't believe them. And, of
course, if the forecasters were blind, the public was too.
"Among the striking stories which later came to light," says Manchester, "was the experience of a Long Islander who had bought
a barometer a few days earlier in a New York store. It arrived in the morning post September 21, and to his annoyance the needle
pointed below 29, where the dial read, 'Hurricanes and Tornadoes.' He shook it and banged it against the wall; the
needle wouldn't budge. Indignant, he repacked it, drove to the post office, and mailed it back. While he was gone, his house blew
away." That's the way we are. If we can't cope with the forecast, we blame the barometer. Or ignore it. Or throw it
On a laser in a physics laboratory: "Don't look into laser beam with remaining eye."
One Arkansas farmer discourages trespassers with this admonition: "Please do not trample the poison ivy or feed the bull."