Sep 17 2009

Hugo Remembered: Bambi Werner, Isle of Palms

“We went to Mount Pleasant,” said Bambi Werner, recalling their evacuation from the Isle of Palms just before Hugo hit. “That was a big mistake.” With a two year old and eight month old, the Werners decided that fighting the traffic wouldn’t be worth it and ended up staying in Hobcaw with some friends. At the time, most people believed that Hugo was going to hit Myrtle Beach.

As the night of September 22 closed in, the Werners gathered together with their friends in the living room and tucked the kids into a playpen – surrounding them with pillows as extra protection. “The house in Hobcaw was surrounded by pine trees,” Bambi remembered. “All night, we heard them snapping.” The eye of the storm arrived at midnight, and it was so eerily quiet that you could hear a pin drop. But it wasn’t long before the winds picked up again. When the storm finally ended, the Werners found that they were essentially trapped in the Hobcaw home, as the pine trees which had snapped during the storm were littered across the roads.

“It was kind of like a military situation,” said Bambi. “There was no power and helicopters and military vehicles were everywhere.”

Since the bridge was out, ferries took people according to the block they lived on to the National Park Services dock at Fort Moultrie. From there they were bussed to the Isle of Palms Marina.

“When I first saw our house I thought, ‘Oh, the house looks good’,” said Bambi. “However, when we got closer, we found it had been completely lifted off of its foundation.” Luckily they had taken most of their irreplaceable items with them, but they needed to get clothes for the them and the children. “We had to break the drawers to get to them [the clothes],” said Bambi. “The furniture was completely swollen and warped.” In fact, more than four and a half feet of water had filled their home at one point during the storm.

It wasn’t until Christmas of 1990 that the Werners were able to move back into their home. “We lost touch with a lot of people,” she recalled. “So when we finally saw each other, it was like a reunion.”

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