Horry County Museum remembers Hurricane Hazel in new exhibit

Horry County Museum remembers Hurricane Hazel in new exhibit

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Museum is remembering Hurricane Hazel in a new exhibit.

While Hurricane Matthew did take a similar hard right turn north this week, Hurricane Hazel followed through with that turn and hit the Myrtle Beach area October 15, 1954. Now, decades later, we're seeing its devastation through some of your eyes.

The exhibit wasn't necessarily a planned one. It all started when those at the museum starting digitizing old photos submitted over the years.

"Afterwards we figured that we had such really neat pictures here, and most of them really hadn't been seen before. They were all by locals," said Hillary Winburn, the museum's curator.

The pictures are from the very people who lived their day-to-day lives in the Myrtle Beach area when Hazel hit and changed everything.

"It's very moving to see that, you know, most of the beach - it was gone. It was nothing there. It just looked like splinter and bricks. These people lost everything," Winburn said.

Along with the pictures are some quotes describing the destruction in 1954.

"Second avenue pier vaporized. Spivey's beach pavilion had poof disappeared," Dino Thompson said.

"It was covered with palmetto trees, bed post, all kinds of appliances. Hazel chewed the concrete up like popcorn, It looked like the aftermath of a bombing raid," said Jack Thompson.

The exhibit is also meant to remind us all that these disasters can happen.

"We are very, very, very lucky. And I think we become complacent to that and it's very important to understand how dangerous these hurricanes are," Winburn said.

The exhibit is also to make us realize exactly what it took to pick up the pieces.

"I don't think a single building east of Ocean Boulevard on the waterfront escaped," then Myrtle Beach Mayor Ernest Williams said.

"This hurricane brought about a huge change in the Myrtle Beach area. The community and surrounding areas came together to rebuild Myrtle Beach and it was up and running again for the next summer season," Winburn said.

Along with the pictures and quotes, there are newspapers from the days after Hazel and a section dedicated to educating those who visit the museum especially young children on what a hurricane is, the damage it can cause, and how to stay safe.

You can visit the exhibit through Spring 2017.

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