Hurricane Hugo

August 25, 2009

Shrimp boats in the driveway? Hugo did it

Forrest Morrison, 71, lives across the street from the water in a two-story brick home in the shrimping village of McClellanville, the town where he was born and raised. On the September night in 1989 when Hugo came ashore, he and his wife, Pam, and their two teenage children had evacuated to a motel 40 miles away in Moncks Corner. (“It was scary even there.”)

“We got back at 3:30 or 4 the next afternoon. What we saw were two large, 68-foot shrimp trawlers in the driveway. They were stopped by a big live oak tree from coming into the house.

“Upstairs, we had put plywood on the front windows, and it looked like you’d gone to dinner and come back. No damage. Downstairs we had 6 feet of salt water (at the height of the storm). There was about 6 inches of pluff mud, shrimp and crabs coating the whole floor.

“We had an antique pine cupboard, primitive pine ... with the china and crystal my wife had inherited. ... It moved 15 feet, and it was on its back. The water had swollen the door shut. When it dried, we opened it, and there wasn’t a chip. The water just gently raised it up and floated it.

“I was an airline captain for Eastern Airlines. The timing of the thing, there was a strike at Eastern, so I was off (when Hugo hit). I had enough time in that I could retire. With all the mess I had, I went ahead and retired.

“The house now looks the same as it used to. We’re not too stylish. My wife is giving me hell because the couch and my favorite chair that we bought right after Hugo, my wife has wanted to replace those for the last four or five years.”

— Megan Sexton

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