Grand Strand residents look back on Hugo

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Laura Thomas - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Hurricane Hugo struck the Carolinas in September 1989, and those who lived to tell about the storm remember it as the worst they've ever seen.

The Category 5 storm left behind $7 million in damage in the U.S., and killed 14 people in North and South Carolina.

For those who lived in the area during that time, they say they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when Hurricane Hugo came ripping through. For many, it seems like yesterday.

"That was a memorable senior year," Joshua Chesson joked, who has lived along the Grand Strand his entire life. Chesson was in high school during Hugo.

However, what could now be a distant memory more than 20 years later lives on in Chesson's collection of newspaper articles that documents the time when South Carolina experienced Hugo's wrath.

"There were limbs down," he remembered. "There were trees down, flooding everywhere. It was like a ghost town."

Chesson says the articles remind him of what he felt as he stepped out of his home to see the storm's damage.

"You can't get over seeing devastation like that," he explained.

Timothy Ault worked with Cox Communications at the time and was one of the first to return to the Grand Strand after the storm. What he found, he wasn't prepared for.

"It was like yesterday. I can still have the feeling and it actually makes me nauseous at some points to see what some people went through," Ault said. "It's the only time in my life I've ever thought I was going to die."

As he looks back on that time, he says if another storm were to roll through the Grand Strand, he would evacuate immediately.

For Ault and Chesson, they say nothing is more memorable than seeing the sheer power of Mother Nature.

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