You can ask anyone living in Charlotte twenty-five years ago, and they can tell you about the September night Hugo drove 200 miles inland to hit the city with a powerful punch, wind gust up to 100mph. In the middle of the night, my family and I hunkered down on the floor of the hall bathroom, waiting for the storm to end and wondering how much damage it would cause to our house and property. We could hear loud popping sounds and saw flashes of light as transformers blew up and later learned that 95 per cent of the city was without power. We feared that the powerful wind would break windows; hence our safety shelter in the hallway.
When the storm finally passed over and headed north, we were able to venture outside and see what Hugo had left behind. It looked like a wild party had taken place, and we were hungover with a stupor of disbelief at what we saw. Trees were down everywhere, making some streets impassable. Some massive oak trees that had shaded and lined streets for over a hundred years were lost. Vehicles were buried underneath their foliage, their roofs caved in.
For days after the storm, you could hear chain saws buzzing in all directions. With no power, people fired up the gas or charcoal grills to cook. They ate food from the freezer and refrigerator before it went bad. We were one of the lucky ones. We were only without power for three days. Some were without for two weeks. Schools were closed as well as businesses. People wandered out of their yards and met neighbors who had lived close by for years. Hugo proved good things can come out of something bad. Neighbors helped neighbors, relatives took in their kin, and businesses offered free services and supplies. Unified and gratified to survive we worked together to rebuild and get back to normal. It was a time I will never forget.
I bet many of you have a story to tell about Hurricane Hugo. Leave a comment and share your experience with others.
Photo credit: NOAA