Flooding from Hurricane Matthew on Main Street of my hometown, Dillon, South Carolina
One of my earliest memories as a very small child living in a town 45 minutes from the South Carolina coast was eating tomato soup by candlelight as Hurricane Hazel raged outside. I remember being scared of the dark, the wind and the rain. As I currently follow my Southern coastal friends on Facebook as Hurricane Matthew brings its devastation, I am reminded that it takes tremendous courage to live on the Southeastern coast of the US. As I write, Matthew has entered my state, North Carolina, and even here in Western North Carolina, we are projected to get three to seven inches of rain. I have a daughter in Myrtle Beach who is housebound and under an overnight curfew. She just lost power.
Hurricane Hazel, a category four hurricane, hit in 1954 when I was two years old. It was the deadliest and costliest hurricane of the 1954 season. 450 people in Haiti died and 95 in the US. The name Hazel was retired due to the devastation. This was the wind and the rain I heard as well as my Daddy’s stories in later years about the devastation to the South Carolina coast.
Hurricane Hugo was a category five hurricane that devastated the coast in September of 1989. It was the most intense tropical cyclone to strike the East Coast north of Florida since 1900. Thirty four people in the Caribbean and 27 in South Carolina lost their lives and 100,000 were left homeless. I have friends with homes on the coast or near it who lost everything- houses, farms, animals, crops, vehicles. Yet they held on and they rebuilt. I know very few who threw up their hands and moved further inland. Below is the state flag of South Carolina, the Palmetto State. After Hurricane Hugo a wonderful cartoon ran in The State paper. The palmetto tree was bent from the wind and the caption was, “South Carolina- bent but not broken.” This comment represents what I know about the courageous Southerners who live and love the Southeastern Coast. Much love and best wishes to my coastal friends.