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Citadel News Service
15 Apr 2013

Mayor Joe Riley's 'Hugo' memories added to Oral History archive

Cadet Steven Foster recently interviewed Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, '64, for a senior capstone paper on the recovery efforts after Hurricane Hugo devastated the Lowcountry in 1989. The interview will become part of the archives of The Citadel's Oral History Program.

steven foster.head shot"The interview with the mayor was the centerpiece of my research, and his memory of Hurricane Hugo gives an in depth look at how a leader handles a major catastrophe on both his personal level and in the community," said Foster, a Menio Park, Calif., history major with double minors in East Asian studies and business administration. Foster will commission in the Army upon graduation in May and plans to be an ordnance officer.

Riley has served as a governmental leader for nearly 50 years. During his tenure as mayor, the City has been nationally recognized for its efforts in affordable housing, the establishment of the Spoleto Festival U.S.A., and the revival of its historic downtown business district. In 2009, President Barack Obama presented him with the 2009 National Medal of the Arts Award at the White House.

In this interview, Riley discusses the region's recovery and his own role in guiding the city through the disaster. The long-time mayor describes the 135 mph storm as it crossed over the city: "The eye was big, 25 miles in diameter, so it was quiet for about 30 minutes, really eerie, eerily so."

Founded in 2008 as an initiative of The Citadel Department of History, the Oral History Program seeks to deepen understanding of the Lowcountry's rich history and culture through the gathering and presentation of recorded memories from area residents.

Read the transcript of the interview at The Citadel Oral History Program.

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