Hurricane Hugo was a rare but powerful hurricane that caused widespread damage and loss of life in the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Southeast United States including South Carolina. It formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 9, 1989 and moved thousands of miles across the Atlantic, rapidly strengthening to briefly attain category 5 hurricane strength on its journey.
On September 22, the eye of the storm came ashore at Charleston Harbor. 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.
The Myrtle Beach & Surfside Beach/Garden City/Murrells Inlet areas also took quite a hit, not so much from wind, but from storm surge. Hugo struck the area during an astronomical high tide, which created a 12 to 14 ft surge. Many beach-front homes in these areas were destroyed, leaving numerous ones lying across the middle of Ocean Boulevard throughout Surfside Beach & Garden City. Telephone poles were left standing at 45 degree angles, and the boulevard was covered in approximately 4 ft of sand. Many homes just blocks from the beach were left untouched. It is said, however, that a Surfside Beach “Beach Access” sign was found at the corner of U.S. 17 Bypass and S.C. Hwy 544 after the storm, almost 3 mi from where it would have been standing.
What does this mean today? About 125,000 more people live in Horry County and 14,000 more in Georgetown County than did when Hugo hit. The SC Emergency Management Department has updated evacuation zones and implore people to know theirs. There are also organizations, such as the Red Cross in case of a disaster.
So what should you do? Make sure you have a plan in case an evacuation is ordered: know where to go, have a place for Rover if he is not allowed to go where you, have enough supplies and medicine. Also, make sure you have enough batteries. But most of all stay calm.
Thanks to Wikipedia, National Weather Service Forecast Office, and Weather.com.