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25 Years Since Hurricane Hugo Slammed into U.S.

  • Hurricane Hugo
  • Hurricane Hugo
About $72 million was spent on Hugo relief effort.

The 2014 hurricane season has been relatively calm so far. However, 25 years ago it was a different story when Hurricane Hugo slammed into the Carolina coast.

In 1989, Hugo entered the Caribbean as a category 5 storm which devastated the Virgin Islands. The storm lost momentum tangling with the mountainous region of Puerto Rico, but regrouped and regained strength, hitting the South Carolina shoreline on September 22 as a category 4 storm.

Hugo came ashore north of Charleston, South Carolina, badly damaging structures on Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, and in McClellansville. The storm surge, as opposed to heavy rains, caused widespread flooding. The strong storm continued a path through the United States striking Charlotte, North Carolina, knocking out power to most of the city and then heading through the Ohio Valley.

In the early phase of the disaster response, there were 302 shelters open in coastal areas throughout the Southeast, housing approximately 50,000 evacuees. Forty Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) were dispatched to help. Almost 10 days later, as the relief effort continued, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico combined had 178 shelters, housing 10,145 people.

Although it has long since been surpassed, at the time, Hugo was the strongest storm to strike the United States since Camille pounded the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts in 1969.

An estimated $72 million was spent on disaster relief—almost three times the cost of any single disaster in American Red Cross history. Approximately 17,000 Red Cross workers helped with relief efforts, which included food, shelter, clothing and other emergency needs.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS Today, the Red Cross responds to about 70,000 disasters every year – small emergencies such as fires affecting a single family to large disasters like hurricanes. Technology has advanced and today people can prepare for emergencies by downloading the series of Red Cross apps for mobile devices that give users instant access to expert advice on what to do before, during and after disasters and other emergencies.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.