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Damage to Tourism Industry At Least $2 Billion With AM-Hugo, Bjt

September 23, 1989

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Boats at Wild Dunes Marina were stacked ″like toys,″ three fishing piers at Myrtle Beach were severely damaged, and the shoreline at Surfside Beach moved two blocks inland.

South Carolina’s tourism industry suffered at least $2 billion in damage to buildings and other structures in Hurricane Hugo, state Tourism Director Robert G. Liming said Saturday.

″Our smiling faces and beautiful places are going to be a little rugged″ for a while, Liming said. ″But we have positive attitudes. We’ve been saying ‘When I breathe, I hope.’ That’s one of our state mottoes.″

Liming said the storm appeared to hit at random, one house or business destroyed while the one next door was left intact. Some tourism businesses already have reopened.

In 1988, tourists spent $4.7 billion in South Carolina, with the impact of that spending estimated to be close to $7.5 billion, he said. Before Hugo, Liming said, the state predicted a 6 percent to 8 percent growth in tourist spending this year. Now, he said, that should reach only 4 percent.

Details about damage were somewhat sketchy since people have not yet been allowed to return to much of the coast and electricity and telephone lines were down. Here is a list of how individual areas fared along South Carolina’s 220 miles of coast:

-CHARLESTON: Most of the historic buildings downtown suffered some wind and water damage, but the main structures remained intact. ″That’s a blessing because that’s what makes Charleston,″ Liming said.

-NORTH MYRTLE BEACH: From Cherry Grove south to Windy Hill, beachfront motels were heavily damaged; some were destroyed. Several high-rise hotels had erosion under their foundations, but none appeared likely to collapse. An 8 p.m. - 7 a.m. curfew was in effect to prevent looting.

Ocean Boulevard was covered with sand and in some places under several feet of water. Most of the dozens of structures destroyed were valued at more than $100,000, said state Rep. Dick Elliott.

-ATLANTIC BEACH: A Holiday Inn had palm trees in its oceanfront rooms. Furniture was pushed up against the back walls, with carpet peeled up. Most swimming pools had severe cracks. Some were filled with sand.

-MYRTLE BEACH: Three fishing piers were severely damaged or destroyed. The high-rise hotels along the Grand Strand remained intact, with damage to swimming pools, first-floor lobbies and restaurants. Parking lots were covered with sand and water.

-SURFSIDE BEACH: Downed trees and power lines; refrigerators, air conditioners, toilets, chairs and tables littered streets. Mud on Ocean Boulevard was 10 inches deep in some places. The shoreline moved inland two blocks. The town’s best-known landmark, the Surfside Fishing Pier, was gone.

-GARDEN CITY: Erosion beneath houses and condominiums left them perched precariously on cliffs of sand. Roads were covered with sand as far as three blocks inland. The city pier was destroyed.

-PAWLEYS ISLAND: At least 14 homes were destroyed, and numerous others were damaged. At least three homes wound up across or in the creek that separates the island from the mainland. A channel of water about 20 feet wide sliced the island in two.

-GEORGETOWN: The marina suffered extensive damage. A sailboat that was securely tied down pulled apart a dock. Condominums on the bayside were demolished.

-ISLE OF PALMS and SULLIVAN’S ISLAND: Every building on both islands appeared to have been damaged. Many houses were buckled and had their supports ripped away. Several houses were in roads.

The Wild Dunes resort, known for its golf course and tennis courts, on the north end of Isle of Palms, just north of Charleston, suffered heavy damage.

The larger of the high-rise buildings in the resort apparently remained intact, but Liming estimated only 10 percent of the houses remained. Gov. Carroll Campbell said boats at the Wild Dunes marina were stacked atop one another ″like toys.″

-FOLLY BEACH: As many as 30 percent of the homes had either disappeared or were uninhabitable, and it appeared all the others suffered some damage.

-EDISTO ISLAND: Suffered serious erosion with water rushing over the road along the waterfront and under most oceanfront homes, many of which were on poles.

South of Edisto Island, the damage was mostly roof and water damage, with some windows broken and trees and power lines downed. An official with emergency preparedness in Beaufort County compared it to the damage done by a severe thunderstorm.

The southern portion of South Carolina’s coast includes the resort areas of Hunting Island, Fripp Island and Hilton Head Island.

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