Track of Hurricane Hugo.

Economic Impact

Damaged beach houses in SC.


Economic Losses
$17.4 billion
United States
$12.2 billion
South Carolina
$10.5 billion
North Carolina
$1.7 billion

Although Hugo made landfall 200 miles away in Charleston, South Carolina, North Carolina still suffered $1.7 billion in damages. A large portion of those damages occurred in the lumber industry. About 68,000 acres of North Carolina’s forests were destroyed, and another 2.7 million acres were damaged. In total, the state lost $435 million worth of lumber.

Along the southern beaches of Brunswick County, over 120 homes were destroyed or condemned. Oceanfront businesses and fishing piers were smashed by Hugo’s 8–10-foot storm surge. After the water receded, the county faced $131 million in damages.

Extended loss of electricity was another barrier to economic recovery after Hugo. In North Carolina, 700,000 people lost power, some for up to two weeks. Duke Energy Company spent $109 million in those two weeks repairing or replacing 8,800 poles, 6,300 transformers, 1,700 electric meters, and 700 miles of cable and wire.

At the time, Hugo was the most expensive hurricane to ever hit the United States. Although this record was shattered by later storms like Andrew, Fran, Floyd, and Katrina, Hugo is still listed in the top ten costliest US storms. The National Weather Service (NWS) estimates that if Hugo were to hit today, it would destroy 21,000 homes and cause $8 billion in damages in South Carolina alone.

All dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation as of 2009.