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Old 09-22-2009   #1
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20 Years Ago Today...

I awoke to destruction that my eyes had never witnessed before.

The night prior at approximately 11pm, this monster made landfall on Charleston, South Carolina:

Hurricane_Hugo.jpg

At its time, this was the most devastating hurricane to make landfall in the United States. It remains today one of the largest hurricanes on record and affected a swath of North America from Savannah, Georgia (who only received a small part of it) to Pennsylvania to upstate New York. Total costs for the damages created by Hugo total $7 billion 1989 USD ($12 billion in today's dollars).

My sister wasn't born yet. My brother claims to remember "a good bit" of it. He claims this is because he got stabbed in the nose the next day while sword-fighting our cousin with a broken tree branch. I was almost eight years old and probably too young to know how terrifying it was for many people.

I remember hiding in the small hallway as the winds rushed through the attic of my house. They disturbed the bathroom fan and created a high-pitched whoosh as they went by. I remember some gusts turning that whoosh into an equally high-pitched wail, like the deadly scream of a bean-sidhe.

I stayed up pretty late for a seven year old boy. I went out during the eye, that eerie calm, and noted what little damage had transpired during the few hours the first half of the storm raged by. I say little damage, although there were already downed power lines and trees and a small bit of flooding (the street next to mine was evacuated because it was in a flood zone but my street was slightly higher), but I say little damage because the worst part of the storm had yet to come. This is the part that I imagine caused the most destruction in the Charleston area. Locally, I can tell you that this was the part that would down a tree in my backyard which worked as a nice little bridge across the three foot wide ditch just on the other side of our property. That is, of course, until my father cut it into small pieces and used it as firewood.

My neighborhood, indeed, most of Hanahan itself, suffered little damage when compared to other parts of the metropolitan Charleston area or elsewhere in the state. In some places, boats were found inland along streets or in front of houses. In one particularly interesting example, a boat that was docked in McClellanville (a small fishing village with about 600 inhabitants) was discovered on Highway 17, the Coastal Highway that runs from Florida to Virginia, more than two miles inland.

Of the pictures I scoured of Hugo's aftermath, here is the only picture of stranded watercraft I could find:

boats.jpg

Unfortunately, other communities were not so lucky as Hanahan. The town of Sullivan's Island, a small town north of Charleston where Edgar Allen Poe was once stationed and where his short story "The Gold-Bug" takes place, lost the only route it had to the mainland:

ben_sawyer.jpg

Folly Beach, South Carolina is a small strip of beach that got hit badly as well.

The before and after pictures of

a) The Atlantic House Restaurant and

atlantic_house_restaurant.jpg

b) Typical beach houses

follybeach_b_a.jpg

will attest to that.
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Old 09-23-2009   #2
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Re: 20 Years Ago Today...

i don't remember any of this
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Old 09-24-2009   #3
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Re: 20 Years Ago Today...

If you were in Boston in 1989, it affected you.

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FEMA was also shitty to us but we didn't need them anyway. South Carolina is recognized as the most hurricane-prepared state in the US. I was surprised to learn this the other night. We're better than Florida!
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Old 09-24-2009   #4
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Re: 20 Years Ago Today...

Not until I moved to Florida did I even pay attention to the weather and hurricanes. Cali has earthquakes that are done and over with in mere seconds and not something you can really "prepare" for or sit there watch it headed your way on TV. Even when I lived in Colorado, with its occassional tornados, I really didn't worry about them. Now having my two kids and having to look out for their safety has it become a neccessity to be aware of everything going around me, at least as much as possible.
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Old 09-24-2009   #5
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Re: 20 Years Ago Today...

I also read it was estimated there were some 3,000 tornadoes within Hurricane Hugo when it struck SC.
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