Cultural Revolutions

A Year After Hugo

A year after Hugo: the Good Morning America helicopter made several passes over the creek today in preparation for the "one year anniversary of Hurricane Hugo" programming that was aired in September. Two of my shrimping relatives went in the ocean instead of participating in the ground-based interviews filmed in advance. Surely a good sign. The media harvest is winding down. The harvest of the sea triumphs.

Hooray and a sigh. Fifteen months ago my wife and I picked our way among the fallen trees that blocked these streets. On every side mud, marsh grass, and dead fish were mixed with parts of houses and house parts. An entire fleet of shrimp boats had been flung high and dry upon what was once "the hill." Helicopters hovered overhead that day as well, taking television photos that I suppose were shown that night or the next. We had no way of knowing, for electricity wouldn't return for another three weeks. And I assumed we got the usual ten-second "bite," but judging by what happened next there must have been much, much more. Huddling over a battery-operated radio that night, I heard the South Carolina governor declare that "the town of McClellanville no longer exists." "Reports of my death were greatly exaggerated," quipped Twain. The governor must have retracted soon after—and with a vengeance—for in the days that followed I would come to think "reports of our...

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