Do you know where you were 20 years ago tonight? If you lived in South Carolina you do. Twenty years ago tonight Hurricane Hugo crashed ashore in Charleston. The storm then moved across eastern S.C. and went right for Charlotte N.C. It was still a cat. 1 with winds of 75 mph in Charlotte.  Until that night, Charlotte had the title “City Of Trees,” but those trees came crashing down with widespread canopy damage. It was a real mess. I lived in Florence, S.C. in those days. My job then was kind of like my job now. Only the technology was WAY different. Who am I kidding. I was also WAY different then. If you have never looked back at how tv has changed over the last 20 years click here. It’s a great web site for those who lived in S.C. in those days. It’s also a funny look at how radar looked, graphics looked, hair looked (check out our female anchor Sue Abrams – that’s a bunch of hair). It’s fun to look back and laugh now. Back then  no one was  laughing.  Well, except Bill Christian. Bill was our GM. He wanted a big storm to give our news department a chance to establish ourselves. I remember telling Bill the storm was forecast to come to Myrtle Beach and him saying “Come to Papa!” In defense of Bill, he was saying this when it was a much weaker storm.  He didn’t REALLY wish the devastation on us, he was just being Bill. In the end he got what he wanted, and then some.

Hurricane Hugo (1989) Radar Image

 I remember we were on the air from about noon on the 21st until around 8 or 9 am the next morning. I don’t want to bore you too much with my look back. Just know that it was a different era. We did cut-ins and special updates instead of constant wall-to-wall coverage. We kept a crew at the beach (that would be Myrtle Beach for you non-Carolina folks) during the storm. Our competition did not. It made for a “win” for our team. Not that anyone was around to watch. Around midnight the power company shut down the grid. All of eastern South Carolina went dark. We stayed on with generator power, but who could watch us? The entire viewing area became a Federal Disaster Area in a matter of 4 or 5 hours. With no power there was no way to for viewers to see our signal. And of course we didn’t have websites, text messages and Twitter for updates back then. We kept broadcasting just the same.

I personally did without power for 6 days. I showered at my friend’s house – she had power much quicker than I did. I also left Florence for Columbia for part of the time. Columbia didn’t have damage like Florence. Gradually we all kind of took the hit and moved on. If you were a power crew guy, from somewhere in America, that came to restore power for us – Thank you. I/We have never forgotten you. If I could buy you lunch right now I would.

I spoke to a man named Tim Kenny this morning.  Tim was my boss in those days. He is also a friend for  life.  Tim told me he remembers being on top of a hotel in Surfside, S.C.  6 months later for a 6 month look back, and not seeing a single light on the beach after sunset. That’s how long it was taking to recover. 

If you have Hugo memories to share, send them to me at tsorrells@wkmg.com. I love hearing from people who were in the same place, same time. Remember Savannah from Real Radio 104.1? She lived through Hugo… small world.

Let’s talk today’s weather….previous post on Fred leftovers kinda sums it all up. “Fred”, or what is left of him, is out there over the Gulf Stream. Hurricane Center does NOT expect any formation to come from it. It should sit there, fire some convection, and eventually drift NW and die a slow death. The only thing that bugs me is this thing has REALLY hung in there. Shear on Saturday had it dead on arrival. This morning it’s not dead yet! I’ll keep watching and have details on anything new here and on The Six O’Clock News on WKMG Local 6.

 

Freds Left-overs Hangin' Over Gulf Stream

Freds Left-overs Hangin' Over Gulf Stream

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other than that we’re finally getting some rain. Remember the rainy season usually lasts until the third week of October. We still need the rain and should still get a few more weeks of action. You can track showers right here.
 
I’ll see you here if anything changes, and tonight at 6 and 11 on Local 6.
 
Have A Sunny Day!
 
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