Grand Strand remembers Hurricane Hugo

Published: Sep. 6, 2012 at 8:37 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2012 at 12:22 PM EDT
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MCCLENNANVILLE, SC (WMBF) – This September marks 23 years since the worst hurricane to hit South Carolina made landfall on our shores, and it's not an event many Grand Strand residents will ever forget.

In 1989, there were 11 tropical storms, seven hurricanes and two major storms. One of those major hurricanes was named Hugo.

The storm still remains the tenth costliest hurricane to date, and at the time was the most damaging hurricane on record. The storm resulted in 107 fatalities and $10 billion in damages.

The tropical wave that would become Hurricane Hugo emerged off the African coast on Sept. 9, 1989. In the following days the storm strengthened, eventually being named Hugo, and even peaking briefly with category five winds.

It took over a week from its formation to reach the Carolina coast:

Sept. 10 – Tropical Depression Eleven forms near Cape Verde.

Sept. 11 – Tropical Storm Eleven strengthens to Tropical Storm Hugo in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sept. 13 – Hugo becomes a category one hurricane.

Sept. 15 – Hugo is upgraded to a category four hurricane. The 160 miles per hour winds nearly caused a hurricane hunter aircraft to crash.

Sept. 17 – Hugo hits the islands of Guadeloupe and Montserrat with 21 casualties.

Sept. 18 – Hugo hits Puerto Rico as a category three storm. There were nine casualties.

Sept. 20 – Hugo brushes past the Bahamas with 100 mile winds. North and South Carolina began storm preparations.

Sept. 21 through Sept. 22 – Just after midnight, Hurricane Hugo makes landfall near Charleston, SC as a category four storm.

Sept. 22 – Hugo passes over the Charlotte area around 7 a.m. as a tropical storm with 60 mile winds.

Sept. 23 – Remnants of Hugo hit the Ohio Valley

Sept. 25 – Hugo dissipates over the North Atlantic Ocean.

WMBF News Facebook fans recalled the events of the week the storm hit.

Dana Lee says, "I remember it being hot, no running water, eating out of a cooler and trees everywhere!"

"I was in 5th grade. Hugo was the first hurricane I remember. We lived in Murrells Inlet, in Mt. Gilead. I remember having to evacuate. I had left my favorite stuffed animal, a bunny, behind at home and I remember begging my mom to go back to get it," exclaims Elleka Bene' Seymour.

There are even a few that were living thousand of miles from the Grand Strand that still remember the impact Hurricane Hugo left on South Carolina.

Rebecca Willis recalls, "I was living in Heidelberg, Germany. We donated some excess textbooks so kids had something to use at school once they resumed instruction. Wow, has it been that long?"

The name 'Hugo' was retired after the 1989 Hurricane Season. Instead, the name Humberto has been used every six years since 1995.

What do you remember about the 1989 Hurricane Season? Were you a South Carolina resident when Hurricane Hugo hit? Tell us what you remember on the WMBF News Facebook fan page.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The National Weather Service and NOAA contributed to this report.