Island in the Storm, by local historians Jamie and Dorothy Moore, documents in vivid detail the devastation, loss and eventual rebuilding of this beloved island community.
On the night of September 21, 1989, Hurricane Hugo slammed into the South Carolina coast at Sullivan's Island with winds exceeding 160 miles per hour. The colossal force of the hurricane was punctuated by storm surges ranging from five to ten feet above sea level. At approximately one minute after midnight, Hugo's eye passed over the island, and the charming community seaside community disappeared beneath the tumultuous sea for nearly an hour. After Hugo left Sullivan's Island in its furious wake, the first news broadcasts from the Charleston area reported that the island and neighboring Isle of Palms were completely destroyed. The Ben Sawyer Bridge--the only connection to the island at the time--was knocked off its pedestal and rendered useless, and so the hundreds of families who had evacuated the area could not return to their homes to see what, if anything, remained. The recovery process started slowly, and for many it would be a long, arduous journey. More than 15 years later, Sullivan's Island's homes and businesses have been restored, but the memory of Hugo's fury will not soon be forgotten.