PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - In the latest edition of “Traveling with the Weather Lady and Weather Baby,” our adventure took us on a coastal trip through the South – from Charleston, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia. The low country region of the South is rich with history, cultural heritage and Southern charm. Oh, and I almost forgot – incredible food. Victorian homes line cobblestone streets, lush green parks with gazebos and fountains pop around every corner. Soul music spills out of cafes and bars as you overhear the Southern sayings, “Yes ma’am and hey y’all.”
But this picturesque Southern charm has been damaged, destroyed and almost wiped away, all by the power of Mother Nature.
“I just remember driving up to the street my house was on and seeing all the trees that lined the street, laying across the road. They just couldn’t handle the winds,” said Brett Witaker.
I met Witaker while touring the Boone Hall plantation in Charleston. He has lived in the area his whole life and has seen his fair share of wild weather through the area.
“We get rain from thunderstorms and the town floods from time to time, but when a hurricane comes our way, it destroys everything,” said Witaker.
South Carolina has seen 25 hurricanes make landfall since record-keeping began back in 1851 and 10 tropical storms and seven tropical depressions.
“The one I remember most was the one from when I was in college, Hugo. Trees down, roofs ripped off, windows broken, the water damage inside the houses, heartbreaking since so many houses in Charleston are historic landmarks,” said Witaker.
Hugo slammed South Carolina in September of 1989 as a Category 4. In Charleston, sustained winds were at 140 mph, and the strong wind gust was clocked at 108 mph. Rainfall amounts were low due to how fast the hurricane moved through the city. But storm surge was 20 feet above mean sea level.
“When it comes to recent years, 2016 was pretty bad we had like four or five storms that year. None of the storms were too bad, but the rain. It was awful. Inches and inches,” said Witaker.
In 2017, Irma caused significant coastal and river flooding from Charleston to Savannah.
This year, people feared Dorian Humberto, and as of just a few days ago, Nestor. Dorian, though, had people boarding up their homes and evacuating.
“You live, you know what to do, pack up and go. You just can’t take any chances. Even when the storms aren’t a direct hit, they can still do some serious damage,” said Witaker.
Although Dorian stayed offshore, it still produced heavy rainfall and a strong storm surge along the South Carolina and Georgia coast.
I appreciate the locals that talked weather with me while I visited their incredible cities.