CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Live 5 News team looked back at the hurricane that changed the Lowcountry forever 25 years after it made landfall.
Hurricane Hugo slammed into Charleston County on Sept. 21, 1989 as a Category 4 storm, becoming the strongest and costliest in the state's history. Hugo was the only Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on the mainland United States in the 1980s, and at that time, it was the most destructive in the country's history in terms of money.
Ahead of the 25th anniversary in 2014, current and former Charleston County emergency officials were emotional as they shared stories from their time during Hugo.
"The damage reports that were coming in to our Emergency Operations Center were so numerous our statistician couldn't even get it up on the board," Dennis Clark, the former Emergency Preparedness Center said. "We knew then that it hit us hard. It really had hit us hard."
Dennis Clark was the director of the emergency preparedness Division during Hugo.
Cathy Haynes said if the county got hit again, they would be ready.
"Our hurricane plan for Charleston County was in draft form when Hugo hit," Haynes said. "We are much more prepared. We still reflect on Hugo as lessons learned and what we can do to make it better."
The officials said they don't remember the statistics of the $6.5 billion in damage but the memories of the public's courage are still fresh.
"The people, the citizens, they didn't wait for the rescuers to come in on their white horses and make everything better," Haynes said. "They got out there and took responsibilities for themselves and tried to get their lives back together the best they could."
Between making landfall in South Carolina and traveling through the Northeast, it caused an estimated $7 billion in damage and was responsible for more than a dozen deaths. Carolina's wide, shallow continental shelf resulted in storm tides as high as 20 feet, still the highest recorded on the East Coast.
The half-hour special, #Hugo25, includes stories of survival, frustration and the kindness of strangers. The special also included video that had not aired in decades.