Hurricane Hugo barreled through eastern Orangeburg County like an angry toddler throwing a tantrum — knocking down or damaging nearly everything in its path.
Hugo’s favorite targets: trees, homes and more trees.
The hurricane ripped through the pristine, pine-canopied Rocks Pond Campground located on 75 acres near Eutaw Springs.
Campground owners Rut and Jean Connor, who lived in a house in the middle of the campground, waited out Hugo’s fury.
The Connors sheltered in the master bedroom and bathroom on the second story of the A-frame house situated on the banks of Lake Marion as the wind whipped and howled.
Rut Connor, who has since died, told The Times and Democrat after the storm that he decided they needed to seek shelter downstairs after seeing “waves” in the toilet bowl in the upstairs bathroom.
After Hugo’s terrifying visit, the Connors emerged from their safe place only to discover what they feared had happened — Hurricane Hugo had devoured the entire second story of their home.
Their personal effects and clothing were blown away, swallowed up by Lake Marion.
“There was utter devastation,” Connor said in the interview in early October 1989.
“We’re going to have to come back with new ideas, new thoughts and renewed faith,” he said.
Of the 569 campsites at Rocks Pond, “none are available to camp on at this time. I don’t mean they’re full of campers; they’re full of trees,” Connor told the newspaper.
Ninety-five percent of the trees at the campground were snapped.
“Since we have no trees; bring the shade with you,” Connor quipped.
Mixed with his wit and dogged determination was a perspective and insight about Hugo’s impact.
“Hugo brought people together in this community that hadn’t spoken to each other in years,” Connor said. “It made a whole heap of people humble.”
Connor expressed a practicality in spite of the relentless storm that had torn through his livelihood.
“It’s going to take a lot of money, a lot of low-interest loans, a lot of hope and a lot of thought. There’s no use in coming back as we were — ‘as we were’ is history,” he said.
Rocks Pond Campground continues to operate today.
The Connors sold it in 2004 after owning and operating the facility for 40 years.
Connor passed away in 2011.
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