Mount Pleasant Magazine July/August 2022

53 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www.MountPl easantPodcas t . com There was a point when Michael Pulliam believed he wouldn’t survive. He and his friend Kevin Williams were swept from the second floor of a beachfront house, the most dangerous place to be. They were taken in a current of 12-foot white waters across the island where they found themselves clinging to the roof of a house. The encounter with Hurrican Hugo in 1989 began when the two friends decided to take a trip to Pulliam’s family beach house. The house was built in the ‘50s by his family. Pulliam remembers spending his summers there as a child. They did not understand the severity of the storm and planned to stay there throughout it. They had no access to a radio, and the television was not working. Williams and Pulliam were unaware that by Thursday the Hurricane had upgraded to a Category 4. “We weren’t concerned at first,” Pulliam said, “because the winds were only 70-80 miles per hour. If we had known the storm was upgraded, we’d had left.” They kept in touch with their parents, who updated them with news of the storm. Pulliam’s mother called the Isle of Palms police to inform them of the boys on the island. “They advised her to advise us not to try to leave the island,” said Pulliam. However, his grandfather had known the area for a long time and advised them to go to a safer place. They went to the house next to theirs, similar, but on stilts. Williams and Pulliam left for the other house at 8:30 p.m. By 9 p.m. Hugo began to arise. “The house started to shake and glass began to break,” Pulliam recalled. They found a radio and were amazed to hear the storm was not predicted to make landfall for another three hours. The storm had barely begun. As Hugo approached, the water became terrifying. In under an hour, it was to the second floor. As the eye approached, barometric pressures plummeted, causing their ears to pop. “There was an electric feeling in the air is the only way I can describe it,” Pulliam said. “The hair on your neck stood up.” The eye of the hurricane was strangely calm, lasting abour half an hour as it passed. “The wind slowed and it got quieter,” said Pulliam. “All you could hear was the water under the house. During the eye we had some contemplative time. We realized we both lost our cars, but that didn’t bother us. We thought we were lucky to be alive.” They believed the worst was over, but they were wrong. Everyone experiencing the storm, even miles inland, discovered this was not the case. Pulliam relayed, “The wind began to come in the opposite direction. In the first part of the storm, the wind came from the front of the house and blew water away from the house. We weren’t having a good time or anything, but I didn’t fear my life at that point. When the wind changed direction, it blew water toward the house. The house started shaking considerably more, and water started coming in through the back door. There were serious prayers going on in the kitchen.” Night of Wind and Water A Remembrance of Hurricane Hugo BY KATHY KEARNEY WI TH ADD I SON CULP feature