I remember walking King Street from the Post and Courier building to Broad Street at dawn, listening to the tin roofs flapping in the gentle morning breeze, and glass crackling beneath my feet.
I’d spent the night in the venerable newspaper building that was built to withstand a Category Four Hurricane, and it did. We were tucked tightly into this concrete cocoon as the storm ripped away everything that wasn’t tied down.
As I walked down that debris-strewn street with my managing editor Steve Mullins, I thought September 22, 1989, was going to be the worst day of my life. But it wasn’t. It was the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that, for the next six months, and then some.
Twenty-five years later, those of us who survived Hurricane Hugo are supposed to be reflective about the devastation that great storm brought to our lives, how it changed our city, our perspective, our respect for Mother Nature.
Of course we remember the endless sound of chain saws, the smell of pine, the hunt for water, the neighborhood cookouts, the lightless nights, the roofers from hell.
Cut off from the rest of the world, we found ourselves in the faces of strangers, we discovered how long and hard we could go without breaking, who meant the most to us, the least, and who our friends really were.
But mostly, when things were bleak and we scraped the bottom of our own personal barrels, we learned what we were made of. Sometimes it takes a disaster of such great proportion to make us look in that moral mirror and manage a smile. Even if it takes 25 years.