Weather News

Coast anticipates storm’s onslaught

The State

More from the series

Hurricane Hugo coverage from The State: Sept. 17 - Sept. 24, 1989

Read more stories from The State’s original reporting of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. From Hugo’s collision with the Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico to its catastrophic landfall near Charleston, The State kept readers up-to-date with vital news about the event that turned into the worst storm South Carolina has ever seen.

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This story first appeared in The State on September 21, 1989.

As Hurricane Hugo whirled toward a South Carolina coast that’s convinced he’s no lightweight, folks from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head Island hustled to prepare for the worst.

Batteries, tape, plywood — recommended accessories for those within hurricane striking distance — were difficult to find Wednesday in many coastal areas.

On Hilton Head Island, many stores were sold out of batteries and masking tape, while along the coast homeowners secured property and watched closely the storm’s advance.

Military personnel bowed in homage to Hugo as well. Officials at bases around the state moved to make sure expensive jets and helicopters were positioned to move should Hugo continue on his present course.

Basic supplies were a more immediate concern to many residents and store owners.

Johnny Ramsey, supervisor of Merita Bread and Cakes in Charleston, said his salesmen were spending their days off Wednesday making sure that store shelves were stocked.

Mike Mozingo, spokesman for Food Lion, said stores in Hugo’s path have requested more bottled water and canned meat.

“We’re trying to get extra shipments out to stores,” Mozingo said.

Tauba Brown, store manager of the HQ home supplies store on Broad River Road in Columbia, said he sent a truckload of batteries to a Charleston store.

“I know our store in Charleston just had two truckloads of plywood sent down there. Usually when we have a bad storm, we sell out of batteries and generators,” Brown said.

Many hotel and motel owners said Wednesday that they would wait for later reports before deciding whether to close.

Steve Spencer, owner and general manager of the Grand Strand Hotel in Myrtle Beach, said employees were securing outdoor objects that could become deadly flying debris.

Spencer said many people were waiting until today to decide on how best to prepare.

Meanwhile, F/A-18 Hornet jets assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort were on standby to disperse to other bases along with the station’s smaller transport aircraft. Spokesman Doug Weatherman said HH-46 helicopters would remain at the base to provide search and rescue missions.

F-16s at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter and McEntire Air National Guard Base in Columbia were on alert to be moved to bases farther inland should weather threaten them, spokesmen for the bases said.

On Wednesday, the Navy began moving ships out of port at the Charleston Naval Base in anticipation of Hugo. Officials in the port city also closed Fort Sumter.

A dozen marinas between Charleston and Hilton Head reported that half the boat owners had moved by late Wednesday afternoon.

“When it comes right down to it, in a situation like this, there isn’t any real good place to be,” said Bill Finch, dock master of the Wild Dunes Yacht Harbor near Charleston.

In North Carolina, coastal residents kept a wary eye on the storm.

While law enforcement agencies and emergency planners checked supplies in case Hugo hits North Carolina, Bob McClure at New Hanover County Memorial Hospital said it was too early to start taping windows.

American Red Cross coordinators have been placed on alert along the North Carolina coast, said Fred Bradley, field service manager for eastern North Carolina based in Durham.

Staff writers Holly Gatling, Michael Sponhour and Jan Tuten and correspondents Greg Smith and Frank Heflin contributed to this report.