'As Dry Leaves That Before the Wild Hurricane Fly': Negotiating Risk and Reality in the South Carolina Hurricanes of 1752, 1893, and 1989

Rebecca Cowles Swanson, University of South Carolina


Using three major American hurricanes in three different centuries, this dissertation focuses on how disasters came to be defined and relief efforts codified in American culture and society. The study examines the 1752 hurricane, the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893, and Hurricane Hugo in 1989 in the context of human agency, or how human actions defined the scope and scale of each disaster. First recognizing the distinct context of each disaster, each hurricane is compared in terms of damage to natural and built environments, impact on the human population, recovery efforts undertaken, and the outcomes of these measures.