by William Moultrie
Mt. Pleasant – As South Carolina approaches the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo next month, a number of coastal residents are hoping for a hurricane landfall this year.
“I know it sounds bad,” said Katrina David, “but since I moved down here from Ohio a few years ago, all I hear about is how bad Hugo was and how people rebuilt their homes twice as big when the insurance checks came in. That part sounds pretty good to me. Also, I’ve had an evacuation trunk filled with bottled water and canned food sitting in the garage for two years now and some of that stuff is about to expire — I’d hate to have to start over on that.”
Hurricane Hugo hit just north of Charleston in the early hours of September 22, 1989, and caused more than $7 Billion in damages before it dissipated. Hugo is estimated to have been responsible for 37 deaths in the United States.
Andrew Gilbert has lived in Charleston since 1993, when he moved here from Pennsylvania.
“My friend Mitch has all these stories about the storm surge washing through the downtown streets” Gilbert said, “and how he and his friends were all drunk and went out and walked around in the eye of the storm when it passed over. That sounds awesome. Of course he said that when he got back to his apartment the next day all of his furniture was ruined and someone had stolen his stereo, but still, it’s a great story.”
In Georgetown, the Second First Methodist Church of Horry County had started a support group for parishioners whose homes were in danger of being foreclosed, but according to some, the group spends most of its time praying for a non-lethal hurricane to destroy their houses.
“Sure, I’ve prayed for some damage to my house,” said Allen Dean of Georgetown. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but frankly, the only thing that can save my house from the bank is an insurance payoff. I have no interest in building one of these ‘McMansions’ you saw go up around Charleston after Hugo, I just want to get out without losing my shirt, and I the only way that’s going to happen is an act of god. So, I’m asking god, what’s wrong with that?”
“Those people are crazy,” said Isabel Beulah of Sullivan’s Island. “They wouldn’t be saying things like that if they’d been here for Hugo. I mean sure, I had some damage to my house and went ahead and put an addition on when I got the insurance money, but it’s just not worth it, believe me. I could tell you some wild stories from the night of the hurricane and the months that followed… really crazy things that you would have had to have been there to believe. It’s hard to believe I’ve been telling my Hugo stories for 20 years now.”
Meteorologists have alternately predicted a busy and a quiet Atlantic hurricane season this year. A final estimate of the number of named storms is expected to be announced in December.