Great Hurricane of 1752 and the Second Hurricane of 1752
If you’ve ever wondered whether the universe hates you, rest assured that you’re not alone. Everyone residing in Charleston throughout September of 1752 probably felt the same way. Of course, being ravaged by two hurricanes in the same month probably gives Charleston a stronger case.
September 14, 1752 – First Hurricane of 1752
On the evening of September 14, violent gusts of wind blew into Charleston, buffeting the city throughout the night. Residents claimed the dawn showed a ‘suddenly overcast’ sky, followed by drizzle, and then rain. The powerful gusts of wind strengthened until their ‘violence was so great that no person could stand against it without support.’ As mid-morning approached, the sea surged in through the bay ‘like a bore’, flooding the harbor area in moments, and smashing ships, sloops, and schooners into the homes along Bay Street.
Cattle and hogs drowned in the suddenly flooded streets, and the storm drove a nearly arrived ship across the bay, and into the marshes near James Island. Residents eventually dug a ‘channel a hundred yards long, thirty-five feet wide and six feet deep’ to drag the ship back into the sea. A wooden house on Sullivan’s Island was ‘carried six miles up the Cooper river.’ Witnesses stated the floodwaters reached ten feet above the harbor high-water mark as it poured into the surrounding homes.
September 30, 1752 – Second Hurricane of 1752
Two weeks later, the city’s rebuilding efforts steamed ahead. Residents cleared the wrecked ships, repaired homes, and struggled to overcome their losses. The storm’s chaos was fading, and order was taking shape in its wake. That, of course, is when the second hurricane roared through Charleston.
This hurricane was not as powerful as the first, but what the storm lacked in strength, it more than made up in speed. It raced through Charleston in only a few hours, ruining many of precious remaining crops, killing livestock, and smashing the Onslow County courthouse (along with its records) as it headed northward. This devastated the year’s already weakened harvest, and winter was fast approaching. Officials clamped down on exports, “corn, pease and small rice,” to ensure the city’s survival. The colony produced 82,000 barrels of rice in 1752, but following the dual hurricanes, the city’s records show that only 37,000 survived the storms.