HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – 26 years later, folks in Horry County still remember the lessons learned from Hurricane Hugo.
For Jack Thompson and his pictures of Hurricane Hugo, a thousand words is never enough.
"It was a surreal experience because you think you're walking through a dream and any minute you're going to wake up,” Thompson said.
Thompson was one of the thousands of people in the south strand just before Hurricane Hugo hit land.
The local photographer documented, and even protected the before, during, and after of it.
“I'm not leaving my negatives,” he remembered saying. “If the tidal wave comes, you'll find me in the vault."
Now 26 years later, his camera lens continues to tell the story.
"The thoughts go back to the power of mother nature,” He said. “The power of the storm and the destruction."
That same power is something Horry County Emergency Management still thinks about to this day.
"There was not a lot of pre-planning that had taken place,” said Randy Webster, director of Horry County Emergency Management.
Webster says the county was not ready for what was coming.
He says planning and communication weren't up to par, and crews learned very quickly things needed to improve.
"It changed everything in terms of how we evacuate, how we shelter, setting up evacuation zones, and the whole thing that you see today,” Webster said.
Now, he says evacuation plans are different, communication is better, and things like a re-entry plan are possible.
Webster says it's all linked to Hugo, because Hugo changed everything.
Back to Jack Thompson, this day is significant in more than one way. It's the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, it's his birthday, and it's officially Jack Thompson day in Myrtle Beach.