Story by Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine photo provided by Lt. Col. Rodney G. Jenkins
COLUMBIA, S.C. – On Sept. 21, 1989, Hurricane Hugo made landfall at Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, as a massive Category 4 storm. The 40 mile-wide eye of the storm crossed the coast in the proximity of Charleston a few minutes before midnight. What was then recorded as “the Nation’s costliest hurricane” (in terms of monetary losses but not in lives lost) hit the coast at a forward speed of nearly 30 mph. As Hugo moved inland, winds increased rapidly, with estimated record-speeds of over 135 mph.
Hurricane Hugo caused unmatched destruction on our communities, particularly in the low-country. The storm leveled beachfront properties and pushed fishing boats and private vessels well inland into towns and streets. Most importantly, Hugo caused 26 fatalities, 343 injuries, and extreme hardship on many of South Carolina’s families.
In the aftermath of the storm, President George H.W. Bush declared 52% of the state as “Federally Recognized Disaster Areas.” As a result of Hugo’s devastation, a total of 6,317 South Carolina “Citizen-Soldiers” were called up in support of the emergency-response efforts. Soldiers were strategically deployed across the state to assist local authorities, both during the evacuation and the relief phases.
During Hugo, the S.C. Army National Guard proved its value as a critical asset in the state’s emergency-management plan like never before. As supported by several findings and recommendations in NOAA’s “Service Assessment Report Hurricane Hugo September 10-22, 1989,” the legacy of Hugo lives on in today’s S.C. Emergency Management Division within the agency’s protocols, operations, and standard operating procedures.
This 25th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo provides the S.C. National Guard an opportunity to emphasize the importance of situational awareness and preparedness in a region, the Carolinas, historically targeted by severe weather. Today, the S.C. Emergency Management Division—which includes the National Guard–provides the best emergency response/relief assets at the institutional level, yet, it is still each family’s responsibility to be ready to efficiently respond to the challenges of any possible natural and manmade disaster.
As stated by Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., the Adjutant General of South Carolina, in a recent interview, “My concern is citizens that have moved in since Hugo and don’t know how devastating this storm was. People may not have the experiences with hurricanes that some of us have seen firsthand. Evacuation early on will be critical if we have another storm like Hugo.”
Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/142610/south-carolina-national-guard-commemorates-25th-anniversary-hurricane-hugo#.VBxpO1ZXu04#ixzz3DmfzHTAh