Storm Landfall

Hurricane Hugo’s tidal surges covered the Lowcountry. Floods pushed into houses. More than 200 tornadoes blasted through the county. Over 120,000 people evacuated Charleston, while tens of thousands more fled to local shelters.

More than 2,000 people remained on the MUSC campus during the worst hours of Hugo. With the primary goal of ensuring safety and security, hospital management continually evaluated strategies regarding patient care and the allocation of resources. All departments—including Dietary, Environmental, Central Supply, Equipment, Laundry, Communications, Respiratory Therapy, and Food Services—struggled to meet the demands of staff, students, patients, and their families.

The heavy storm surge disabled most of the hospital’s generators, causing a loss of power and subsequent water shortages. As wind and rain poured through shattered windows, staff worked furiously to disinfect and sterilize patient areas. The Intensive Care Unit staff relied on hand ventilators. For several hours helicopters and EMS units could not transport patients to or from the hospital.

Meanwhile, Physical Plant personnel concentrated their efforts on the hospital buildings, wading through chest-high water to obtain items necessary for patient care. Other employees braved flying debris and wind to shield the emergency power switchgear and generators from the rain.