Hugo and the shrimper

Above is a photo from the dock at Shem Creek. In the background in Magwood's boat, Winds of Fortune. (WCIV)

By Dave

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Shrimper Wayne Magwood knows the dangers of a hurricane all too well and is lucky enough to still tell his tale.

A major hurricane has not hit the South Carolina coast in almost 25 years. Most new residents in the Lowcountry, young adults and children have no idea what it's like to feel the 140 plus mph winds that a storm like Hugo produced. {}

"I really had to stay down during the height of the storm," said Wayne Magwood, local shrimper. "There was debris flying through the air, and the windows were breaking. You could hear all kinds of thing smashing into my boat."

Magwood chose to ride out the category four Hurricane Hugo on his boat the Winds of Fortune. He tied up with a shipmate in Shipyard Creek, about five miles up the Cooper River from where the current day Ravenel Bridge stands.

"This is our livelihood, so we stayed on our boat. It was bred into us by our relatives," said Magwood.

Hurricane Hugo slammed onshore just north of Charleston on the night of September 21, moving inland at about 26 mph, and packing winds of 140 mph.

"There's nothing you can do on the boat. When you're out on the deck and there are 100 mph winds, you can't even stand up. The rain is coming down so hard, you can't even see your hand if you put it in front of your face," Magwood said.

Magwood and his shipmate retreated to the galley of the boat and hid under the dinner table to avoid the furry of the storm, which he says lasted for about three to four hours.

"I was under the table praying, literally," Magwood said.

He had a lot of family to think about too. His Dad rode out the storm on another boat on Shem Creek. His Uncle even took his dog on yet another boat to keep him company.

"My uncle's dog was on the boat with him during Hugo. He said that dog never was right after Hugo, it was just scared, scared, scared," Magwood said.

Magwood did know that it was going to be a powerful storm, but he had never really been through a storm of that magnitude -- just smaller less intense hurricanes. He didn't have his wife and kids evacuate, simply boarded up and told them to stay in the center of the house on Shem Creek to avoid the possibility of falling trees. He then told his wife and daughter he thought they'd be alright. They did indeed survive the storm.

"All my family was sitting on the steps when I came home, and my daughter looked at me and said, 'Dad, you lied! It was bad! The whole house shook, and it was terrible,'" Magwood said.

Hugo was the storm that changed the shrimper.

"If there's another storm like Hugo, I'm going to evacuate and find some higher ground. But before I go, I'm going to tie my boat up, kiss it, and hope it's there when I get back," he said.

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