A sailboat teetered over on its keel, lying in the roadway of Lockwood Boulevard — the photo has become an icon, a says-it-all symbol of the powerful winds of Hurricane Hugo.

But for the people who wandered the wracked Charleston peninsula after the storm, the boat is still as real as that morning spent swinging between awe and horror.

Hugo smashed apart the Lowcountry on Sept. 21, 1989, 24 years ago today. Roll the numbers around in your head: 35 dead, more than 50,000 homeless, half the state without electrical power.

The $6.5 billion in damage the storm did then has been estimated to be more than $8 billion in damage today.

Only seven hurricanes with the force of Hugo have hit South Carolina since 1851. But two years ago, Hurricane Earl came within 300 miles, one of four “near-miss” major hurricanes that year. This year so far has been quiet. But there’s still more than two months to go. And one of those major storms, Hazel in 1954, struck Oct. 15.

Bo Petersen