Lessons from Hurricane Hugo: Recommendations for Marina Operation and Design

by Jon Guerry Taylor, Jon Guerry Taylor P.E. Inc, Pleasant, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: World Marina '91


Hurricanes are not new to South Carolina, but with the recent development of the coast, many new and unseasoned boaters have located in the area. Since Hurricane Hazel in 1954, South Carolina had been spared a direct hit by a major hurricane. During that same period, many new marinas had been constructed and in many cases were operated by individuals that were not experienced in hurricane preparation, evacuation or recovery. On September 22, 1989, 'Hugo', a Category IV hurricane slammed ashore with its 135 mph winds and a 20 foot tidal surge. The author is a practicing professional engineer in the Charleston area and has visited and studied over twenty marina and fishing pier facilities to survey hurricane damage and to monitor reconstruction. In addition, surveys have been conducted with marina personnel to ascertain their degree of preparedness, and their actions during and after the hurricane. Hugo is probably the best documented Category IV hurricane in history and many of the existing marina operation and design assumptions have now been tested and found to be in need of change. Evacuation of marinas in urban areas can be in conflict with landside evacuation at bridges, boat ramps, shipping and naval repair facilities. Evacuating or sunken leisure craft can be in conflict with critical naval defense and commercial shipping lanes such as harbors and the Intracoastal Waterway. Boat slip renters and condo slip owners are entitled to know the degree of protection offered by their marinas. Insurers and financing institutions will begin to ask detailed questions about marina design and operations. Municipalities, permitting agencies and the public will view marina and coastal structures permit applicants with a new view toward assurances about interruption of public services, damage to adjacent facilities and potential for oil and fuel spills that can result from hurricanes. The study summarizes some minimum marina design and operational recommendations and expands future hurricane considerations to boaters, marina developers, marina operators, permitting agencies and others.

Subject Headings: Public buildings | Hurricanes and typhoons | Ports and harbors | Coastal environment | Damage (structural) | Small craft | Freight transportation | Aging (material) | South Carolina | United States

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