CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – September 21st marks 32 years since Hurricane Hugo slammed into the South Carolina coast.
The Lowcountry’s Chief Meteorologist, Rob Fowler, says it’s like he can still hear the storm’s howling winds.
The powerful category 4 storm packed 140 mph sustained winds and 160 mph gusts as it made landfall on Sullivan’s Island in the middle of the night.
“Everything really escalated to that point… on September 21, where we had to go into another mode and realized it wasn’t turning, it was coming into South Carolina,” said Rob, who was the only full-time meteorologist at WCBD TV 2 at the time of the hurricane.
He had only been in the Lowcountry for two years at the time.
Before, during, and after Hugo, Rob was there to keep Lowcountry residents informed.
“I counted. I went about 69 hours with no sleep,” he said. “Almost three days with no sleep at all. I could not do that [now]. I’m a lot older now, but I was young back then and I could do it.”
News 2 evacuated the station and Rob reported from the National Weather Service.
“It was quite scary here. A couple of times it sounded like the roof was being pulled off, and many of us ran down this hallway to the bathroom for protection,” Rob said.
But Rob knew that if he was afraid, other Lowcountry residents were as well. He knew that he had to do everything in his power to stay on the air.
“You just run on adrenaline. You know, people are counting on you. You’ve been trained to do this hoping that you wouldn’t have to do something like this, but knew that you had to be on TV for as long as you possibly could and give the information because it was constantly changing.”
32 years later, Rob says Hugo is still the most significant storm of his career.
“After Hugo happened, I felt this amazing tie and bond with this community. We all went through something together.”
Hugo was the last major hurricane to make landfall here in the Lowcountry.