MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCBD) – It was 30 years ago this September that Hurricane Hugo devastated the South Carolina coastline.
At the time, it was one of the costliest hurricanes in American history.
One man who saw the power and destruction first-hand was our very own Rob Fowler.
We sat down for a one-on-one with Rob to hear his memories of the category 4 storm.
“If I told you I wasn’t scared to death, I would be lying,” he said of his experience. Rob had only been with WCBD for two years when Hugo came knocking.
“Going into it, it was hard to believe ‘this is happening,’” he said. “You always feel like it’s going to turn, going to go back out into the ocean. We got to the point – as it was getting closer to land – we realized it wasn’t going to turn.”
It was then the team had to kick it into the next gear. “You’ve seen all of the videos of the officials warning people, letting them know this was coming and needed to prepare.”
His wife was pregnant with their first child at the time. He says there was no question about it – “she was going to evacuate to Atlanta, five months pregnant, it was really scary.”
While he stayed behind to help his community through what would become one of their biggest nightmares. “She knew I had a job to do,” he said.
During the storm, Rob was stationed at the National Weather Service office in North Charleston. “You’ve got 12-13 meteorologists who were looking at all of the information, seeing the radar. Then here comes the first part of the storm which was bad enough… and then the eye,” he recalled.
“We actually had about 45 minutes in the eye, so we all went outside. Because we had the advantage of seeing the radar, the meteorologists who stayed inside said ‘guys, you need to come back inside.”
He went on to say, “I think what was most surprising to me was the second part of the storm. That came through with a vengeance, and where I was the windows were bowing in about six inches – we didn’t know if the building was going to implode from the inside out or not.”
Please join us as we continue to look back at Hurricane Hugo both on-air and online.