Sheriff Duane Lewis recalls his experience during Hurricane Hugo

Hurricane Hugo

BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – September marks 30 years since Hurricane Hugo made landfall in the Lowcountry.

News 2’s Berkeley County reporter Raymond Owens has the story of how the storm impacted one Berkeley County man you may be familiar with today – Sheriff Duane Lewis.

Back in 1989, a man lived at a house right here near the entrance to Cypress Gardens. After Hurricane Hugo, it took him three weeks to get back here to find total destruction.

“This was an epic storm for its time,” he said. “It was something that we had never experienced, at least not in my lifetime.”

September 22, 1989.

“We were so naïve at the time it seemed to me,” he said.

Today, Duane Lewis is the sheriff of Berkeley County. But as Hugo churned into the Lowcountry:

“I was a young patrolman at Charleston City Police Department. Working, you know, we were running around trying to prepare as we knew at the time how to prepare,” he recalled.

Lewis was living in the house next to Cypress Gardens.

“I was living there as sort of a caretaker watching over the property,” he said.

The morning after Hugo…

“What I remember is, you know, pluff mud and fish down on the Market,” he recalled. “It took me about three and a half weeks to actually get to my house.>

And by the time he did…

“The home that I lived in at the time was totally destroyed,” he said. “I didn’t have a home for months, about six months, I had to live with my parents.”

People showed who they were… both the bad…

“I also had gotten looted,” he said. “Somebody came in and took most of my valuables that I had left; the television and a VCR, if people remember what that means.”

…and the good.

“I had folks from Montana come to my house and didn’t charge anything to take the large pine trees off my roof.”

For someone who had just lost everything, that meant a lot.

“It really left an impression on me,” he said. “The kindness of people when their fellow citizens are down and out because we were down and out.”

The house that was here later became offices for government agencies including Clemson Extension. It was recently torn down.

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