The violent storms killed 32 people and caused more than $30 million in damages in today’s figures
In the aftermath of devastating tornadoes that swept the area on September 29, 1938, women and children comb through piles of brick and lumber where buildings on Church and Cumberland streets once stood in this photograph taken by Morton Brailsford Paine, with the St. Philip’s Church steeple visible in the background. The first of five twisters hit the peninsula just before 8 a.m. near the Ashley River Bridge, the second pulling up oaks in White Point Garden and ripping the roofs from City Hall, the Charleston County Courthouse, St. Michael’s Church, and the City Market. Less than half an hour later, another leveled homes on Sullivan’s Island, with two more tornadoes touching down on James Island. Paine’s image illustrates the destruction faced by residents, who had no warning of the violent storms that killed 32 people and caused more than $30 million in damages in today’s figures.