The last time I was in Charlotte there was plenty of damage and debris.
I arrived just after a Night of Fury.
Although there was chaos in Charlotte [with the airport running on emergency power] everyone at the airport was warm, welcoming and efficient.
It fact, Charlotte provided the smoothest immigration and airport experience I’ve ever encountered in the United States.
I guess a natural disaster really helps everyone focus on what’s really important.
Hurricane Hugo was a powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane that caused widespread damage and loss of life in the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Southeast United States.
It formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 9, 1989.
Hugo moved thousands of miles across the Atlantic, rapidly strengthening to briefly attain category 5 hurricane strength on its journey. It later crossed over Guadeloupe and St. Croix on September 17 and 18 as a category 4 hurricane. Weakening slightly more, it passed over Puerto Rico as a strong category 3 hurricane. Further weakening occurred several hours after re-emerging into the Atlantic, becoming downgraded to a category 2 hurricane.
However, it re-strengthened into a category 4 hurricane before making landfall at McClellanville, a small shrimping town up the coast from Charleston, South Carolina, on September 21 with 135-mph sustained winds (gusts to more than 160-mph).
It had devolved to a remnant low near Lake Erie by the next day.
As of 2015, Hurricane Hugo is the most intense tropical cyclone to strike the East Coast north of Florida since 1900.
The storm reached Charlotte only six hours after landfall, not having slowed down when reaching land.
By this time, it was still a fairly strong tropical storm with sustained winds of 54 mph (87 km/h) and gusts of 87 mph (140 km/h).
This was enough to topple trees across roads and houses, leaving many without power, closing schools for as long as two weeks, and spawning several tornadoes.
The storm took many in the area by surprise.
Charlotte is roughly 150 miles (240 km) inland, and many coastal residents from both Carolinas went there to wait out the storm.
And I wasn’t offended when I was told it would be helpful if I could get out of town.
That was way back in 1989.
This is 2016.
And it feels like I’ve lost an old friend.