SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo.
The storm made landfall near Charleston as a Category 4 Hurricane, then moved through the state, passing between Columbia and Sumter during the early morning hours of September 22, 1989.
Damages from the storm cost upwards of six billion dollars and 35 people in the state were killed.
Many in Sumter County still have vivid memories of the night Hugo tore through the area, destroying buildings and leaving many without power for weeks.
"I was teaching school at the time at Sumter High School and my principal came and got me one day.... I said, 'What is the big crisis?,' and he said, 'Well, the Hurricane, Hugo is going to hit us probably sometime tonight,' Sammy Way, a Sumter native and local historian, said. "Later that evening, we began to hear the sounds of the hurricane."
Way and his family prepared for this storm like any other, securing outdoor items for the possibility of windy conditions.
"We had no earthly idea that Sumter was going to get winds in excess of 100 miles an hour.... This was something that none of us had envisioned nor experienced," he said.
The next morning, he walked outside to find trees tossed and buildings ruined. His family had lost power and many of the roads were impassible.
"The streets were just inundated with all of these limbs and trees and roots.... For weeks, we couldn't get downtown, they wouldn't allow you because many of the stores, the windows were torn down.... It was an incredible, eye opening event," he said. "My wife and I made a vow that the next hurricane that hits us, would have to look for us in the Rocky Mountains."
Like many in Sumter, Way says Hurricane Hugo remains in the back of his mind still, 30 years later.
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