August 27, 1893 – Savannah, Sea Islands
The hurricane first hit the coast, passing over Georgia’s Sea Islands, before churning its way north 100 miles with a 16–foot storm surge. The hurricane made landfall just south of Savannah, with winds of 120 mph, a category 3 storm. With an unusually low barometric pressure, it was one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the east coast.
The impact was devastating; nearly 2,000 killed, 30,000 homeless, and property damage in the millions. “Savannah,” reported one paper, “is demolished.” Governor William Northen called on Clara Barton and the Red Cross for relief, but help didn’t arrive till October.
The Sea Island Storm remains the third deadliest in American history, terrifying hours for those who faced it on the night of August 27, 1893, Today in Georgia History.