Twenty years ago on Sept. 21, 1989 Hurricane Hugo came ashore near Charleston and left destruction behind. Many of you were part of the SCANA family then and helped to restore power to more than 300,000 electric customers in S.C. In fact, no one in the state of S.C. east of 1-95 had power. In 18 days, more than 2,000 employees and 7,000 contractors and workers from other utilities had power restored, safely. It was a defining moment in our company’s history, and we’d like to hear your stories.
Share your Hugo memories by sending an e-mail to email@example.com or read other stories below.
38 years of service
I retired on January 31, 1989 along with 90 others in the first wave of “down-sizing”. My job was general manager of Electric Transmission Lines and Substations. I was asked to help with the restoration of the electric transmission lines probably because of my familiarity with the systems and employees; the new managers having been in place for only 7 months. On September 22, our team went to Charleston and set up an operation center at the Leeds Avenue crew quarters. For the next 16 days we started at 6: am and worked until 8:00 pm. There was not a light burning from Orangeburg to Beaufort. It would be 7 days later before any electric energy began flowing. The support from other departments was outstanding. The purchasing group rented a 10 acre site in Summerville and had poles by the truckload arriving immediately, along with the other material requirements. I do not know who handled the feeding and housing of the hundreds of people working, but they certainly did a tremendous job. I wonder now where the daily lunches were prepared since no businesses had electric power. Our group was housed at a motel on the Savannah Highway which had gas water heaters, thus providing a welcome hot shower each night. They had electric generators which allowed the kitchen to provide us breakfast and dinner. Our world for those 16 days was a small control room with no windows. We were unaware of which day of the week it might be, even forgot they were playing football in Columbia. We had a large map of the transmission system on a wall and each day were able to outline, in red, inch-by-inch the lines being put back in service. It was quite an experience for all of us and I was proud to have had a role in it.
Gary I. Smalls I worked for SCE&G for 30 years
During Hugo I worked at Mount Pleasant office, and I have worked from McClellanville to the Cooper River Bridge. During Hugo restoration, we worked 16 hours on, and eight hours off. We didn't go home for 16 days. Trees were on top of my home with my wife and children inside. I went home on the 17th day and stayed home to remove the tree from my house. I will never forget Hugo and the effects it left on many individuals.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
Bonnie Dawson32 years of service with SCE&G
I worked for SCE&G for 32 years and retired as associate manager of customer service branch operations. Having worked six years, I was one of the original six customer representatives in the customer inquiry center when it began operating in Dec. 1968. Shortly afterwards we began assisting the service center with power outage calls, so by Sept. 21, 1989 we had experienced many summer and winter storms. Many things changed during that time; we had grown to 26 customer representatives and four supervisors. Every employee was assigned to a storm team and every four weeks would carry a beeper and be on storm call. This plan had worked very well, but not for Hugo. Our staff spent many hours preparing for what became a devastating hurricane. Many employees from other departments joined our customer service teams to answer phone calls around the clock. We had two shifts – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The first team began working at 8 p.m. Sept. 21. Since I am a night owl, I volunteered to be responsible for the telephone center at night. Every morning, after attending a staff meeting to get storm updated and then tying up loose ends, I would leave about lunch time and return by 8 p.m. We knew employees were making personal sacrifices to work long hours so we did our best to make everyone as comfortable as possible and we ate very well. If we asked for a food preference, it was often BBQ and we had lots of snacks. Most people preferred Oreos. The first call came in around 10 p.m. – the customer lived along Charleston Hwy and reported his lights out – he said he fully expected to lose power, but not BEFORE the storm even got here. After seven days, most power was returned to the Columbia area so we sent representatives to help with Charleston.
I appreciate the opportunity to share my many good memories of SCE&G.
John Bruins31 years of service
I enjoyed all the picnics we used to have to get employees together. I thought it was very thoughtful to cancel the one picnic during the time of Hugo when some were still working to get the power back on. I wish SCE&G would have picnics again so we could get together and have a reunion. I would love to see my co-workers again. I will be 84 years old in Nov.
Clyde Godfrey37.5 years, SCE&G
When Hugo came to town I was retired and recuperating from surgery. I made a survey of the damage to my immediate area and found one pole snapped. I wrote down the number from the pole and reported it to Leeds Ave.