Hurricanes are often considered to be strictly a coastal problem. Hurricane Hugo offered conclusive proof to the contrary. The storm made landfall near McClellanville (SC) on September 21/22, 1989 as a Category 4 hurricane. With maximum sustained winds of 135 mph (and much higher gusts), Hugo devastated the South Carolina coast. A storm surge of 15-20 ft wiped-out many oceanfront structures- and even threatened local storm shelters.
Residents seeking refuge from the storm in Lincoln High School (McClellanville) were surprised when rising surge invaded the building. Waters quickly reached waist-high, then chest-high. By stacking chairs and tables to stay above the rising water, shelter occupants managed to survive the worst of the storm. After slamming the coast, Hugo raced inland across South Carolina and curved northwestward towards Charlotte (NC). The Queen City experienced hurricane-force wind gusts and driving rain.
The intensity of the storm over inland counties was an eye-opening experience for many residents. In total, Hugo produced over $6 billion in damage over the Carolinas.
Chief Meteorologist Jerry Jackson