I was working at Belk downtown Columbia in 1989. The afternoon before Hugo hit, I went onto the roof of the store and watched the clouds build.
Having been in hurricanes before, I knew we were in for a big one. After closing, I went home. I was living with my parents. That night was horrible. My parents slept through the storm, but I stayed up all night. We had pine trees around our house, and I could hear limbs crashing down in the yard and hitting the roof. Thankfully, we didn't lose any trees, but most of the other houses on our street did. We were without power. A neighbor across the street had a generator, and we all ran extension chords to have some power.
The next morning, I drove down to Belk. We were closed, but I answered the phone to tell customers that we were closed. We also opened the store's restaurant to those downtown who wanted water or sandwiches. For several years later, whenever it stormed with heavy wind, I was very nervous and scared. It was as though I was had flashbacks of that awful night in 1989.
-- Walter Durst, Columbia