Surviving the Storm: How Hugo changed the Carolinas

CHARLOTTE, (WBTV) - Hurricane Hugo roared ashore along the Carolina coast 20 years ago on September 21, 1989.

Charleston and Myrtle Beach were the first major cities in the hurricane's path.

Residents along the coast did all they could to prepare.  They boarded up windows and stocked up on survival items.

Click here to learn how to build a disaster kit.

When Hugo arrived, many homes and businesses didn't stand a chance.

Store signs littered the streets and rooftops were ripped off buildings.

Once Hugo's fury finished along the coast, the Charlotte area was next in his path.

During the early morning hours of September 22, Hugo hit the Charlotte region.

People awoke that morning surprised to see all the devastation around them.  Hugo caused massive power outages, damage and in some cases, death.

"This is just unreal," one resident said.  "You just can't think of enough adjectives to describe all this."

Winds gusts blew through the Queen City at 85 miles-per-hour, knocking over trees and power lines.

Streets became impassable and some folks were without power for weeks.

Hurricane Hugo all but shut down Charlotte with everything from schools to businesses closed.

While Hugo isn't the deadliest storm to hit the Carolinas, it was certainly one of the most damaging and costly.

Cleaning up downed trees and debris throughout the Charlotte region, and rebuilding homes along the coast would take weeks, months and years.

WBTV Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas takes a look back at the devastation and destruction in their special report -- "Surviving the Storm: How Hugo Changed the Carolinas."

Click the video summaries to the right to see portions of their special report which aired Friday, September 18, 2009.

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