On this day 22 years ago, South Carolina residents were bracing for one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever strike the east coast. Hurricane Hugo made landfall around midnight just north of Charleston at Sullivan's Island as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of nearly 140 mph.
Hugo produced the highest storm tide heights ever recorded along the U.S. East Coast with storm surge reaching 20 feet at Bulls Bay, SC. Storm surge along the Grand Strand was as high as 12 to 14 feet at the height of the storm while winds frequently gusted to minimal hurricane strength. Hurricane force wind gusts were felt as far inland as western North Carolina during the day on September 22nd.
Many beach-front homes along the Grand Strand were destroyed, leaving numerous homes lying across the middle of Ocean Boulevard. Many residents were without power for nearly two weeks after Hugo. Damage estimates from the storm stand at 7 billion dollars with 49 lives lost as a direct result of the storm. Most buildings in downtown Charleston sustained significant damage, but the worst destruction occurred in beach towns north of Charleston such as Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms where the majority of homes were rendered uninhabitable due to the fact that this area received the strongest winds and highest storm surge.