Local resident publishes memories of Hurricane Hugo

  • Monday, June 16, 2014

There are many accounts of living through Hurricane Hugo, but none quite like this. A Church, a Dog, and a Monster Storm is Doug Ludlum's account of how “a preacher, an organist, and a Basset hound survived an enormous storm in an old Charleston church.”

Ludlum, the longtime Choirmaster and Organist of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, was a self-proclaimed storm junkie. As he writes, “No one enjoyed a big crashing, banging gully washer thunderstorm any better than I.” But Hugo, now remembered on its 25th anniversary, exceeded even his expectations. He went from charting the storm's progress on his cork board to abandoning his house on Radcliffe Street and taking refuge in the church.

This new book is essentially Ludlum's diary of preparing the church for the storm's impact and how he and Dwight Dubois, one of the church's pastors, took all the precautions they could, gathering church candles, protecting the altar cloths, and hunkering down as the storm passed over.

All proceeds from the book are earmarked for St. Matthew's current challenge, a $7 million renovation of the sanctuary following water damage. This is the latest in a long history of challenges for the 142 year old sanctuary. Completed in 1872, seven years after the bombardment of Charleston in the Civil War, the church was shaken by the earthquake of 1886, suffered severe damage in a fire in 1965, and withstood additional damage during Hugo.

A Church, a Dog, and a Monster Storm, priced at $15, will be available at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church.  It will also be available at selected gift and book shops throughout the Charleston area.

For more information, contact seithelj@bellsouth.net or the St. Matthew's Lutheran Church office.

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