Hurricanes remain threat in October
Once South Carolina generally accepted that its biggest risk of hurricanes ended as September was coming to a close. Recent years with Hurricanes Matthews and Irma have shown that early October poses a threat also. As we hope that 2021 will spare us the worst of Mother Nature’s storms, we remember these days 33 years ago in 1989 when South Carolina was reeling under the impact from Hurricane Hugo, a Category 4 storm that struck near Charleston on Sept. 21. The storm caused severe damage far inland, including damaging 246 homes and causing an estimated real estate damage of $40 million in Orangeburg County alone. Hurricanes and tropical storms have been a way of life for the Palmetto State since the first settlers set foot on its rich soil. And they have changed the course of history. The National Weather Service has recorded hundreds of hurricanes and tropical storms that hit North America since Colonial times. Many of them have have impacted South Carolina. The Spanish Repulse Hurricane was the first recorded hurricane to hit North America. It made landfall just below Charleston on Sept. 4, 1686, and lasted two days. The storm came just in time to repulse an attack by the Spanish on the lower Carolina settlements, probably near modern day Folly Beach. Unfortunately, it also caused much damage to the settlement, driving ships onto land, destroying crops and houses and killing many people. The second recorded hurricane, known as the Rising Sun Hurricane, also made landfall near Charleston. It hit on Sept. 14, 1700. It flooded the streets of the city, ruined crops and property and caused at least 70 deaths. The storm damaged numerous ships, including a Scottish vessel called the Rising Sun, killing all sailors on board. The Great Carolina Hurricane, a Category 3 storm, made landfall just below Savannah on Sept. 7, 1854. It lasted two days and caused great property damage from high winds and storm surge in Charleston. On Aug. 25, 1885, an unnamed Category 2 hurricane hit Charleston. It destroyed all except one of the city’s wharves and damaged 90 percent of its buildings, causing damage totaling $2 million. Many lives were lost in the storm. For more than 300 years, South Carolina and its neighboring states have faced major and minor hurricanes and tropical storms. In the early days, the community had little or no warning that the disastrous storms were about to strike. Thankfully, those in a hurricane’s path today are in a much better position than their ancestors to weather the storm. Hurricanes are tracked and mapped for days or even weeks, making it possible to predict the potential tracks of the storms, along with wind speeds, storm surge and the impact on inland areas. Evacuation routes are planned out for different areas along the coast and emergency shelters are set up across the state. In addition, lanes on interstates and major highways are reversed, allowing residents of threatened areas to evacuate more efficiently. September ihas ended and October is upon us. Eyes will remain on the tropics, which history tells us can produce devastating storms that threaten the entire Southeast. It is advised not to rush time, but when it comes to hurricanes, mid-October cannot get here soon enough. Reprinted with permission from The Associated Press and the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg.