Paul Williams, the church sexton, was concerned about the uncertainty of his home, so he called the Pastor for permission to bring his family of 16 to ride out the impending storm. Williams moved his large family to what he thought was the safety of a building that had survived 18 hurricanes. It had been constructed in 1849.
The water began to flow into the building about 10 p.m., rising upstairs and causing loose items to tumble down. Williams began moving his family up a 12-foot pull-down attic ladder. One by one each family member was raised to the highest level. As Williams attempted to climb the ladder to join his family, the wind and water took control. The boards framing the building cracked open. Williams was swept into the adjacent Live Oak cemetery where he found refuge in the fork of a tree standing against the swirling waters. His family were washed away screaming for help with no one to respond. During the night Williams watched the mounting debris, the toppling tombstones, and the regurgitating coffins popping out from recently dug graves.
The misfortune at Trinity Episcopal Church, actually, was the worst single tragedy to occur in Pass Christian's history, since the loss of 10 Christian Brothers to Yellow Fever in 1867. Camille claimed 13 of the Williams' family. Paul Williams survived along with one son, Malcolm, and his son-in-law, Erin Burton. In an adjoining building, the Pastor's wife was also lost.
The next morning, with the assistance of rescue workers, Williams and the other two family survivors began the grisly task of recovering the bodies of their loved ones. The irony of the incident was that the Williams' house had escaped the storm unharmed.
Chief Jerry Peralta remembered watching the recovery of the bodies from Live Oak Cemetery. "The thing that hurt me most . . . was Williams with his family, as I watched him carrying those bodies. He carried them out of the cemetery and laid them on the sidewalk", stated Peralta, during an interview prior to his death in 1982. Williams buried his large family in DeLisle, a small community just north of Pass Christian. The burial included his wife, 8 children, and 2 grandchildren.