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 firstname.lastname@example.org or read other stories below.
Larry M. CorleyPurchasing Department
Hugo, as I remember personally, was devastating and crippled most of the state. It was a time that families, neighbors, and strangers opened their hearts to each other and shared what they had to give.
Professionally, we all worked hard together to put the pieces back together again. I remember very, very long hours away from my family. A lot of the purchasing was done on the company's word and integrity. Verbal agreements were made, as time was of the essence. Our suppliers did what they could to get the materials delivered ASAP. Everyone was empowered to do what was necessary to get South Carolina up and going.
I remember some of the Purchasing team went to Charleston the day before Hugo and spent the night by a storm wall in the Charleston Store Room. We did this to be there at daylight to supply materials to the lay down areas.
I retired in 1995, and feel sure that today, the SCANA family is up to the challenge should another catastrophic event occurs.
Ed Tinsleyretired in 1985 with 32 years of service
I worked with the Right of Way group in Charleston, and had been with the company through Hurricane Grace, but had retired four years before Hugo.
We lived in Summerville and I spent the days before Hugo getting ready and getting my generator prepared in case we needed it. The night of the storm things started getting pretty bad around 11 p.m. and by midnight trees were falling all around and on our house – some punched holes in the roof, but it didn’t break the roof in all the way.
About 1 a.m. the eye of the storm came right over Summerville and everything was as still and calm. I had my chain saw ready and a ladder down by the house so me and my two boys went on the roof and cut the limbs that punched holes and put patches over the holes. While we were patching, the wind was coming from the north, just as were finishing it was light a switch was turned and the wind became hurricane strength again.
When day light came we could only get out of the house through the front door – everything else was blocked with threes. We had nine trees on the house and a few more that just missed. We had a total of 32 trees down on an acre lot. We fared well since our house has gas. Crews got us back on line in about 10 days. It is something we will always remember.
Ryan HarmonColumbia Gas Operations, retired in 1993
I went to work for Columbia gas operations in spring of 1966 and retired in December of 1993 as a senior technician. I was working for Warren Darby on that Thursday in Dillon, S.C. and he called me and told me to check out of the motel and come home. He said Hugo was going to hit Charleston and to pack enough clothes for 10 days to two weeks and be in Charleston early the next morning. I was there about 7 a.m. that morning after dodging trees on I-26 and getting to Leeds St. gas operations. Many people were still in shock from the trees and damages to their homes. A crew from Columbia got there with supplies we needed to get started. We put out fires and gas leaks all around the down town areas. Some of us worked all night and then the next day we started all over. About the third day in, a guy from Columbia brought a generator with him and we were able to supply the electricity for the gas water heaters. It was nice to take a hot shower. Then we went to Folly Beach to remove the gas stop cocks and the regulators and meters from homes – Hugo took out our 4" gas main and many homes were just gone. The Holiday Inn was destroyed. The National Guard from Horse Creek Valley in Aiken brought in a bull dozer so we were able to get down to the end of Folly that was really destroyed. We were on Folly for about four to five days then I headed to Georgetown to repair a rectifier that had been underwater. I finally returned home after 10 days. We all worked really hard in gas operations to make sure everything was safe after Hugo.
Fred G. Hortonretired Associate Manager of Customer Service in Beaufort.
I went to work for SCE&G in August of 1959, one month before Hurricane Gracie hit our area on September 29, 1959. We were without power for a week so I knew how bad it was. We found services down in remote areas up to a year afterwards.
I believe Hugo struck on a Friday and on Saturday we got a call asking for help in Summerville for food. They had no electricity or water, and no way to feed company or other personnel. We had the biggest part of our area back on.
We had a boom truck, so we loaded our large commercial range on it. I went to the Air Station and borrowed a "water buffalo" (water tank on wheels) with fresh water. Then I went to a local shrimp company and borrowed his insulated truck and got 300 pounds of shrimp and 3500 pounds of crushed ice. We carried 300 steaks, eggs, bread, bacon and as many groceries as possible and set out for Summerville.
My wife Ruth, who was a former relief cashier, along with retired service man Dan Thompson and his wife Gladys, and two employees from Columbia went to help cook.
We had some difficulty reaching Summerville since trees were down across the road everywhere. Many times we had to back track and take other routes. Once we got to Summerville, we had plenty of help to unload and set up the stove under an open truck shed.
We fed as many as 300 people breakfast and dinner for a week. Camden Seafood Hut had a mobile kitchen and fixed box lunches for all. We got very little sleep and by the time you got cleaned up after supper and got to the motel, it was time to go back to fix breakfast.
One night we cooked 300 steaks, one night we cooked 300 pounds of shrimp, and one night we had beef stew and biscuits. We had to go the Columbia for supplies. As power came back on, some restaurants opened and we were able to head home.
Once I got back, I was assigned a 52 man crew from Illinois. They had several line trucks and bucket trucks, none with front mounted winches. Being from the Midwest, they had never seen boggy places before and tried to carry trucks where you could not ride a bicycle, I showed them how to cut trees to go under the wheels and hooked tip-mounted winches to each other and got them out.
They asked how an office person knew about such things and I told them that I had not always been in the office, I started out on the line crew.
I hope that no part of our company is ever devastated again to the point that it was during Hugo. It was my pleasure to work for 35 years for SCE&G and retire in 1994. Keep those retirement checks coming!