Hurricane Hugo: 26 Years Later



Twenty-six years ago today Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, South Carolina on September 21, 1989 with winds up to 135 miles per hour. These winds, together with a storm surge of water about 17 feet high, wrecked buildings and marinas along more than 100 miles of coastline.
 
Away from the coast, high winds and several tornadoes damaged buildings and downed trees and power lines. Due to the extreme intensity of Hurricane Hugo when it crossed the South Carolina coast – the storm roared through inland communities with unimaginable force.

Hugo marched through South Carolina killing scores of people, destroying property, leaving destruction and sorrow. Many who had fled the coast found themselves in frightening weather conditions while they waited in motels, shelters, and schools.

 
Almost two-hundred miles inland Hugo still had 100-mph wind gusts. The major metropolitan area of Charlotte, North Carolina suffered extensive damage. Thousands of large trees fell into homes and businesses around Charlotte and glass was shattered in downtown skyscrapers. Torrential rains in Virginia flooded roads and cut power to 2 million people. By late on September 22nd, Hugo finally died over the cool forest of southern Canada.

American Red Cross trained volunteers opened 438 shelters that housed over 93,000 people. One week after the storm over 56,000 people in South Carolina were left homeless. Red Cross served over 1,000,000 meals. Over 700 volunteers worked around the clock in South Carolina assisting hurricane victims with immediate needs such as food, clothing, shelter, bedding and other essential items of household furnishings as well as emergency medical supplies.



Ann Wright, CEO of the American Red Cross of Upstate South Carolina was dispatched 3 days in advance of predicted landfall to North Charleston with a team of disaster volunteers and staff leaders to serve as the Director of the Charleston Hurricane District. She was there for the duration of the storm and some of the first to see the damage at first light. “It was a harrowing night as the eye passed over us in sheer darkness. We could hear trees breaking, winds howling, and class shattering for what seemed like days! Amazingly, some phone communications actually remained intact until the very end of the storm” Ms. Wright said. “Many of our personnel and supplies were staging in Charlotte. Unfortunately, Hugo took a path inland and literally followed Interstate 85 and hit Charlotte with significant winds and rain. This delayed our support and supply arrival, so we had to get by with what little we had. It was very scary, yet a rewarding experience. People at their very best, and some at their very worst, in one of the darkest hours this country had ever seen up to that point. Not soon forgotten! My hope, said Ann Wright, is that no one will forget how important it is to respect these storms and their power. Being prepared and following evacuation orders are critical.”

The American Red Cross encourages every family to be Red Cross Ready in case of a hurricane or any disaster. It is important for you to be prepared for possible disasters and other emergencies. Natural or human-caused disasters can strike suddenly, at anytime and anywhere.

#ItOnlyTakesOne Storm to affect life as you know it.  Take the necessary precautions to be prepared for a hurricane.
There are three actions everyone can take that can help make a difference:
1. Get a kit
2. Make a Plan
3. Be informed


 

Join other members of your community through the American Red Cross in taking these
first steps. You never know how many people your actions will affect, how many lives you might change. Contact your local American Red Cross today for more information on how you can be Red Cross Ready, or if you would like to volunteer with the American Red Cross.

 

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