CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – September marks 30 years since Hurricane Hugo devastated the Lowcountry. One local attorney – who stayed to help the people of Charleston through the preparation and recovery – recalled her experience watching the storm unfold.
Linda Lombard was one of the few people to stick around and watch Hurricane Hugo wreak havoc on the Holy City.
“That’s Hugo, knocking on the door, get ready.”
As a chairman of Charleston County Council and a chairman of the Emergency Council, Lombard stayed behind at the Emergency Operations Center.
“We were there about two weeks,” she said.
She’s best known for telling the people of Charleston to leave.
“Ladies and gentleman, Charleston County is now under a State of Emergency,” she said during a Wednesday news conference from the EOC the Wednesday before Hugo hit. “It is anticipated that Hurricane Hugo will be in the Charleston area earlier than first reported … It is imperative that all residents of Charleston County, especially those living in beach areas, low lying areas, barrier islands. properties adjacent to tidal creeks, and all mobile home residents leave as soon as possible.”
“I just explained to everyone on television what was going on, that he was coming and my last words, ‘get out of town as soon as you can,’” she recalled.
Lombard worked side-by-side with everyone at the Emergency Operations Center. She provided answers to those on the phones with questions and words of encouragement during a dark time – regardless of issues she faced herself.
“There was no electricity, no nothing and it was September, so it was hot as Hades,” she remembered.
After Hugo, Lombard recalled riding down King Street after the storm to find that most of the roofs were ripped off the homes.
“And then I came to my house to see how the neighborhood was doing, and I had to walk the last three blocks because the trees were down,” she said.
Slowly over time, the City of Charleston got back on its feet. Lombard says that’s because the community came together. Neighbors helping neighbors.
“And I’m so proud of this community and I’m so happy to be a part of it,” she said.