Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris IslandCommunity
Hurricane season for the Atlantic coast begins June 1, and continues through Nov. 30. Beaufort has been fortunate and missed the brunt of several severe storms in the past few years. However, the danger of a major hurricane coming ashore here remains.
For newcomers to the area since Hurricane Hugo, it is hard to comprehend the force of the storm and the damage it inflicted upon the Lowcountry. For others who braved the deluge of rain, high winds and vivid lightning, Sept. 21, 1989, is a date difficult to forget.
While Beaufort County sustained only minor wind damage and heavy rainfall, Charleston, along with its surrounding communities of Summerville and McClennanville, were nearly leveled by one of the most devastating hurricanes to ever hit the Southeastern United States.
Even as Hugo methodically approached the Atlantic Coast leaving behind a wake of destruction throughout the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, many believed the storm would weaken. Instead, Hugo gathered strength and headed for South Carolina and Georgia coastline.
Only when landfall was imminent did residents begin to brace for the storm. As a result, many were ill prepared for what became a catastrophe. Thousands of people evacuated coastal areas in the waning moments before the storm’s landfall. Hugo even forced the cancellation of Company H, 2nd Battalion’s recruit graduation ceremony.
Beaufort was also spared the damage of Hurricane Bob in 1991 as it took a northward swing and made landfall in the Camp Lejeune, N.C., area.
Two strong hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast near Pensacola, Fla., in 1995. Their effects are still being felt as property owners struggle to rebuild their homes and their lives.
In 1996, Hurricane Bertha and Fran approached the Lowcountry, but both diverted north to the Camp Lejeune region. In 2000, Hurricane Floyd became less of a threat to the area as it weakened and became a tropical storm.
Most recently and perhaps the most powerful storm to hit the Southeast in the last century was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm destroyed Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., and leveled much of the southern portion of the state and then moved into the Gulf of Mexico to do the same to Louisiana.
If there is a bright spot which shines through the destruction, it would have to be the heightened sense of awareness Atlantic Coast residents now have. These storms have enlightened many about a hurricane’s deadly force and how best to prepare themselves and their property against it.