Storm Aftermath

Hurricane Hugo proved to be the most expensive storm in Charleston’s history, with damages exceeding $6 billion, $33 million at MUSC alone. However, even amid such destruction, within two weeks staff and students resumed their normal routines.

Across campus continued power and water outages hampered both repairs and daily activities. There was no refrigeration for the blood bank; CT and MRI scanners were down and electronic patient files were lost. A lack of running water in the Institute of Psychiatry gave rise to a toilet patrol that cleaned commodes; the National Guard trucked in drinking water daily.

MUSC staff hosed out spaces caked in mud. Receding floodwaters combined with the September heat to produce thick black mold, which was painstakingly removed.

For MUSC employees the fear and anxiety of the storm was doubled as they balanced securing their homes and families with meeting their professional obligations and duties. As staff repaired damaged buildings, they too slowly recuperated from the trauma of the storm.

A few days after the storm, staff from the Institute of Psychiatry gathered for a cookout at which they shared food that would otherwise spoil and celebrated their recovery.

MUSC Administration provided relief aid for the hospital and university employees. It established a child-care center on campus to accommodate staff whose children had nowhere to go until the schools reopened. It also offered staff and patients access to volunteer psychologists who worked to address the inevitable anxiety and trauma.

Private citizens and organizations stepped up to provide relief to those in the MUSC community: money and clothes were loaned; food and homes were shared. Sharon Hoffman, dean of the College of Nursing, raised $26,384 in cash and pledges for nursing students’ tuition.

Catherine Ceips, director of MUSC’s volunteer services, described this spirit of unity: “The response of MUSC employees and students has been enthusiastic. [They] feel good about making a contribution to the relief effort.”