Hurricane of 1940 that struck Ga., SC coasts revisited 80 years later

Hurricane of 1940 revisited

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As we continue through this hurricane season, we might want to keep in mind just how lucky we are when we get through a year without a major event because that wasn’t the case in 1940.

Aug. 11, 2020, is the 80th anniversary of one of those storms that did a lot of damage to the Georgia and South Carolina coast between August 11 and 12. Our area has weathered and made it through a lot of storms in the past, but the hurricane of 1940 was one of those historical events.

“1940 is definitely one that is remembered around here. Savannah really saw a lot of damage from this, over $1 million worth of damage - and that was in 1940 dollars, so, probably a little over $20 million of damage now, and unfortunately, there were deaths with this storm as well,” said WTOC Meteorologist Andrew Gorton.

Savannah survived, and some might say it was just a Category 2 storm, but thanks to a little luck, we have great photos of the event.

Susie Chisholm found a box of old negatives and turned them over to the photographer in the family, Danny Grantham, and he went to work.

“I’ve got a kind of historian background, and I enjoy those things. So, I’m enjoying scanning and putting them up on the internet so people can see them and see old Savannah. How do you describe it? Laborious,” said Dan Grantham, retired graphic designer/photographer.

Grantham has scanned over 6000 so far, and it takes about 45-minutes to scan and touch up each photo. The damage of the storm is clear in these old black and white photos. The Bell Tower came down at Rourke’s Iron Works on East Bay Street. The Firestone Building was at the west end of Broughton Street on what is now MLK Jr. Blvd.

All of these images are due to Danny’s father, who was an amateur photographer and architect. Grantham Senior went on to become a flight instructor in World War II, but it’s his photography skills and a son’s love of history that leaves us memories of the 1940 Hurricane.

“I want to save them for people to see for the future, so they don’t disappear. All of these pictures, after a hundred years, just kind of disappear, negatives disappear. I’d like to get them digitally done and give them to the Georgia Historical Society or something like that where they can file them and people can see them in the future,” Grantham explained.

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