drjackIn celebrating his life’s work, the question is often asked: What if Dr. Jack McConnell had turned a blind eye like so many of us tend to do? What if he had never given down-on-their-luck Hilton Head Island hitchhikers a ride and cared enough to want to help?

But those who know the founder of Volunteers in Medicine the best already know the answer. Behind the accolades and accomplishments, including being in part responsible for some of the greatest medical advancements of our time, there is a big-hearted, tap-dancing teddy bear who knew no other way than to help the island’s less fortunate.

Think evacuation was stressful? Many Lowcountry women went into labor during Hurricane Matthew

Less than 24 hours after giving birth to her first child, Samantha Nochitta of Bluffton was strapped to a gurney, with a fluid bag above her, a catheter still in place and a tiny baby perched on her chest.

 Captain Charles Abner stayed with his shrimp trawler, Lady Bernice, during the hurricane. The boat was landed in mud, against the dock of the Rowing Center. On Oct. 17, a tug boat (the Lady May of Frogmore) and two rigid-hulled speed boats (all volunteers) pulled for almost two hours to free it.

Lessons learned from Hurricane Hugo, which devastated coastal South Carolina in 1989, led to many improvements in pre-storm preparations, including earlier and faster evacuations, better storm tracking and forecasting, and tougher statewide building codes.

As southern Beaufort County residents assess and repair damage from Hurricane Matthew, they might also look to Hugo for some lessons on recovery and reconstruction.

Lowcountry residents are no strangers to tropical storms, but Hurricane Matthew proved to be one of the most challenging — and destructive — natural disasters the area has experienced in decades.

As the eye of Hurricane Matthew passed 20 miles to the east of Hilton Head Island, wind gusts of 88 mph were recorded in the area. Fallen trees blocked entry to the island, many roads were under water, and power was out throughout the area.

Many Bluffton High School teachers, football players, cheerleaders and neighbors formed a cleanup crew to help those in need

Knowing your home is in the path of a hurricane is a stressful experience that triggers a rollercoaster of emotions — one it doesn’t end after the storm has passed. Evacuees are stuck in far-off cities, relying on traffic cams and reports from neighbors who stayed behind for reports on how their homes weathered the storm. We were tremendously relieved when our neighbor’s photo showed our home survived the hurricane — despite two enormous pine trees that had fallen on the roof directly over the front door.

Here is a collection of news, notes and photos we collected from Hurricane Matthew. This is just a small fraction of the many wonderful heroes and organizations that continue to be there for our community in this difficult time. To share your story, photos or video, email editor@hiltonheadmonthly.com.

Here is a collection of photos from Dayle Thomas of Smarty Pants Photography, who ventured out to capture some of the damage throughout the area including Port Royal Plantation, Wexford, Spanish Wells, Hilton Head Country Club and Oyster Reef Golf Club.

Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and the surrounding communities have a widely known and well-earned reputation for lavish and manicured landscapes. Perhaps that’s why it’s so difficult to witness the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. 

Without majestic live oaks, green grass and beautiful natural scenes, the Lowcountry just doesn't seem like the Lowcountry, and many area residents are wondering when things will get back to normal. 

Photographer Mark Staff got an up-close and personal look at Hurricane Matthew. Here, he describes the experience from his Spanish Wells home.

FRIDAY, OCT. 7
It has been a fairly interesting night. It’s strange that one becomes accustomed to the non-stop pelting rain that courses off the roof and the sound of rushing wind that continues to increase in velocity as the hours pass. It did get a little creepier as darkness came (very early). I have received lots of texts from friends arriving at their various “safe” destinations.