Charleston Museum, homes ready for tropical storms

CHARLESTON,S.C. (WCIV) - Walking through the streets ofdowntown Charleston,history is everywhere. From the buildings to the pavement, to the treasuresinside, there's plenty to take in. But is Charleston'shistory and match for Mother Nature?

The CharlestonMuseum is the oldest museum in America. It wasfounded in 1773.

"We've got the prosthetic handof Col. Gailliard who fought with the Confederate forces on Morris Island,"said Carl Borick, the assistant director at Charleston Museum.

There is hundreds of years ofhistory filling the rooms of the museum, but could one storm wipe it all out?

"Any time we see there's atropical storm threat, we regularly check the National Hurricane Center website to checkwhere that cone is," said Borick.

The current museum was built in1980 and is said to be hurricane-proof. While much of the city was destroyed inHugo, the museum actually fared pretty well. Some of the windows broke, but thebuilding stood up to Hugo's strong winds, Borick said.

Most of the museum's importantartifacts are behind Plexiglas, which helps keep water out.

And the center of the museum isbasically a vault. There are rows of steel cabinets. Dry, secure and safe, theroom stores the history of the Lowcountry.

While the museum's artifactsare kept safe, can they say the same for the houses it owns, like the JosephManigault house across the street?

"Obviously, the first thing we'regoing to do is make sure the windows are closed and the shutters are closed," Boricksaid.

There are no Plexiglasenclosures or vaults, so if a serious storm approaches, teams of employees willspend a day bubble wrapping the silver, the artwork and the furniture. Some ofit can fit in storage, but some is so large it has to stay put.

"They're brick structures, they'resturdily built, and they've certainly seen their share of disasters in Charleston history withwar and earthquakes and numerous tropical storms and hurricanes," Borick said.

When the next hurricane arrivesin the Lowcountry, the Charleston Museum says its housesand collections are staying put.

"It's a great place forfamilies to visit and we plan to be here, storms or no storms," he said.