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The Catalyst

Nurse cherishes Hugo reminder

By Kathy Salter, RN
University Internal Medicine

Kathy Salter sports her post-Hurricane Hugo T-shirt presented to MUSC employees who worked throughout the storm.

I was as an R.N. in the Storm Eye Institute when Hurricane Hugo came through Charleston in 1989. As we got word the storm was expected to hit the area, we packed away anything near windows, canceled patients and were sent home to ride out the storm. When we returned to town we were instructed to call the clinic and see what was needed afterward.

My family and I went to Walterboro, and stayed with my in-laws for a couple of days. We could hear the wind whistling and some trees were down but Walterboro was ok. I then went to Beaufort to stay with my dad for a few days and that area had a few trees down but was otherwise was doing well. When I did return to Charleston about 4 days later, as I was coming north on Highway 17, the closer I got to Charleston the worse the damage was. It was clear this was a major storm and I was just beginning to see the effects.  One memory that has stayed with me with not only were the traffic lights out because of loss of electricity, but many of the lights had blown off the light poles and were nowhere to be found. Crossing a road took some planning although there was not much traffic on the roads.  There was a curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and I kept my MUSC tag available when I was going home after 7 p.m.

I was able to stay with friends who had hot water which was the biggest luxury one could ask for at the time (because of a gas water heater.) I contacted my nurse manager and was told that child care was needed for staff who were working and had no daycare —the entire city was disrupted. I had a 4–year–old daughter and 6–year–old son with me, because their sitter was out of town and I could not reach her, so I volunteered for three shifts of child care that lasted 12 hours.

We had children all over the Atrium of the Children’s Hospital, from infants to teen agers. One day we had more than 100 children. The infants were easy to care for, but the teenagers were like a herd of wild animals. I made it through my 36 hours of child care and was thankful when the clinic opened and things slowly returned to normal. I did not bag patients in the ICU during the storm, but I think I made my contribution by taking care of children after the storm. I earned my T–shirt that said “I worked through Hurricane Hugo and the aftermath” and will not let that reminder go… as if I could forget!




December 11, 2014



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