Hurricane Hugo

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox hurricane

Hurricane Hugo was first detected as a group of thunderstorms near Cape Verde, Africa, on September 9, 1989. Moving westward, it was declared a tropical storm on September 11, and declared a hurricane on the 13th. When it reached the Caribbean, it struck and caused much devastation in places such as Guadeloupe, the Leeward Islands, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico, where six people died on September 18th.

Hugo made landfall in North America on the evening of the 21st as a Category 4 hurricane just northeast of Charleston, South Carolina, heading toward Charlotte, North Carolina.

While downtown Charleston suffered extensive damage, the brunt of the storm was borne by the northern suburbs of Mt Pleasant, Sullivan's Island, and Isle of Palms. Both islands were disconnected from the mainland by destruction of their bridges. Along the coast it destroyed many houses and the storm surge piled boats on top of each other.

But the eye of the storm came ashore still further north between the small towns of Awendaw and McClellanville in the Francis Marion National Forest, breaking off most mature trees. In McClellanville, a small fishing village, residents took refuge in Lincoln High School, and were surprised by the sudden tidal surge which flooded the school. With water pouring into the rooms, the refugees helped one another in pitch darkness to climb into the space in the hanging ceiling above the rooms. All survived.

The storm moved rapidly, with the center passing over Moncks Corner and close to Sumter, destroying homes, timber, and the area cotton crop.

By the time it reached Charlotte, it was still strong enough to topple many trees across roads and houses and leave many without power for as long as a week. The last death caused by the storm was in East Aurora, New York near Buffalo when the winds toppled a tree onto a motorist.

After the storm, then Governor of South Carolina, Carroll Campbell, said that the storm destroyed enough timber to frame a home for every family in the state of West Virginia. He also noted that there were about 3,000 tornadoes embedded within the hurricane, which accounts for extensive damage in some areas not within the path of the eyewall.

Hugo caused $7 billion ($9.4 billion in 2000 dollars) in damage in the US (plus $3 billion in the Caribbean). At the time it was the costliest hurricane in US history, but was exceeded in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew in south Florida. In South Carolina, which bore the brunt of the storm on the continent, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was slow in responding and Senator Fritz Hollings referred to them as "a bunch of bureacratic jackasses." An investigation was launched, which led to some reforms in FEMA procedures that helped the agency do a somewhat better job during Andrew, the next catastrophic hurricane to strike the United States.

Sources differ on the number of people killed by Hugo, with some citing the American Meteorological Society's figure of 49, and others claiming 56 deaths. Some government agency sources claim only 32 deaths.

Extensive relief aid was provided by The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and various churches.

On the island of St. Croix, looting and lawlessness reigned in the aftermath of Hugo. Phone, electricity, hospitals, banks, the airport and 90% of all structures were severely damaged or destroyed. Three days after the storm hit, the Governor of the Virgin Islands asked President George Bush for federal assistance in restoring order to the island. On September 20th, members of the XVIII Airborne "Contingency Corps" were dispatched to the island as part of Operation Hawkeye. Military police patrolled the island for two months imposing a dawn to dusk curfew. Cargo planes used to bring in food, water, mobile hospital units and other supplies offered free evacuation flights for anyone wanting to leave for the mainland.

In a piece of historic trivia, Hugo had a small but significant effect on basketball history. When the storm hit St. Croix, it destroyed the only Olympic-size pool in the Virgin Islands. This pool was the training site of Tim Duncan, a 13-year-old swimmer who was one of the top age-group swimmers in the United States, not just the Virgin Islands. However, when his training pool was destroyed, he switched his focus to basketball. Duncan eventually became an All-American at Wake Forest University and a two-time NBA MVP with the San Antonio Spurs, and has two NBA championship rings with the (cyclone)


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