Hugo experience inspires a novel

H.A. (Andy) Olsen, Irmo

July 31, 2009 

The storm impacted my life in such a profound manner that I've spent the past three years writing a novel that takes place in 1989. It's about a seventeen-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down by Hugo.

How did Hugo lead me to take on such an endeavor? First of all, that horrible night will always remain etched in my memory. Like many Charlestonians, I thought it was just another scare. I fully expected the storm to brush past us and move up the coast to Cape Hatteras. When I finally realized we were in for a direct hit, it was too late to evacuate. So I bunkered down with my pregnant wife, my youngest daughter, and several close relatives in a small house that stood eight miles from the Charleston Harbor-a safe distance, I presumed. Man, was I ever wrong. The guilt I felt for putting my family in harm's way and for putting them through the trauma of that terrible night became one of the motivations for me to write the novel. But the thing that struck me the most, and what lies at the heart of the story, is the way the people of South Carolina picked up the pieces of their shattered lives and moved forward. This determination to survive 'come hell or highwater' is one of the things that defines us as a people, and is something we should all be proud of. The title of my novel is “A Lone Palm Stands.” I believe anyone whose life was affected by Hurricane Hugo will relate to the protagonist and the uncertain days that followed in the wake of one of the most defining events in our state's history.

-- H.A. (Andy) Olsen, Irmo

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