Remembering Hurricane Hugo 33 years after it devastated South Carolina

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 12:23 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - On September 22nd, 1989, Hurricane Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston Category 4 hurricane


The damage left behind was staggering.

Eighty percent of South Carolina was without power. Four and a half million acres of trees were demolished. The 20-foot storm surge north of Charleston still holds the record of the highest ever observed on the east coast. Closer to home, the surge reached 13 feet in Surfside Beach and it 10 feet along the Grand Strand.

33 year ago, Hurricane Hugo hits South Carolina
33 year ago, Hurricane Hugo hits South Carolina(WMBF)


Back in 2014, WMBF NEWS spoke with Larry Kurtz about his experience with Hugo. Kurtz chose to wait out the storm at Socastee High School and he documented the devastation. Kurtz saw homes ripped out of the ground and others ripped into pieces. When he went down to the beach, parts of the pier were completely gone.

“It’s hard to explain the devastation without seeing it” said Kurtz.

Myrtle Beach oceanfront following Hugo.
Myrtle Beach oceanfront following Hugo.(WMBF)

When it was safe, Kurtz told WMBF News he checked on his two houses as quickly as he could.

At the time, he was building a house off Highway 544. He also rented another home in Surfside Beach. Both were still standing and in good condition.

“Here up with Hurricane Hugo with no insurance and two buildings, fortunately, there was no damage to either one of them. It could’ve been a lot worse than what it was on a personal level.” Kurtz said.

But while he personally saw little damage, his neighbors and friends weren’t as lucky.

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk after Hugo
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk after Hugo(WMBF)

According to National Weather Service, the storm damaged 79,000 homes and claimed the lives of 35 South Carolinians.

Thirty-three years later and Hugo will be a storm for those who experienced it will never forget.