Laura Hunsberger


Laura Hunsberger began her career in radio in 2010 at WHQR in Wilmington, NC and received her MFA in Creative Writing, Nonfiction from UNCW. In 2012, Hunsberger began working as Associate Producer for the NPR and South Carolina Public Radio program Song Travels with Michael Feinstein. In 2015, she became a staff reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, reporting on statewide and national news and covering the historic floods that hit South Carolina in October 2015.

Ways to Connect

In the wake of the historical flood, community outreach programs are helping families get back on their feet.  The Pine Glen subdivision was hit hard by rising rain water and residents are worried they may not be able to move back in.

Yesterday, Governor Nikki Haley issued an executive order to continue the work of a Domestic Violence Task Force, begun a year ago in January. Last year, South Carolina was ranked 1st in the Nation for the rate of women murdered by men. Governor Haley and members of the Task Force spoke at a press conference about new measures the state will be taking this year to bring that ranking down. South Carolina Public Radio’s Laura Hunsberger has more on the story.

Resources for Domestic Violence Survivors:

Thursday, December 17, the USC Darla Moore School of Business held their annual Economic Outlook Conference. Joseph Von Nessen Ph.D. presented the 2016 South Carolina Economic Outlook.  While the Thousand-Year flood caused major damage in SC, the recovery efforts are expected to cause a temporary stimulus in 2016.

After the flood: Forest Lake Gardens in Forest Acres, near Columbia, SC, in December, 2015.
Forest Lake Garden Center

  Local farmers have been selling to the Forest Lake area for three decades or more. But flood damage and other circumstances may cause the last vendor in the area to close up shop.

    At the Forest Lake Gardens in Columbia, employees are busy trimming the extra branches from Christmas trees for customers. People come here year round for plants and peanuts, and this time of year, for fresh cut Christmas trees. When the historic flood hit the state in October, the Garden Center was hit hard.

Debris outside resident Mike Parker’s home in the Gills Creek neighborhood of Columbia, SC.
Linda O'Bryon/SC Public Radio

Many in Columbia braced for what was later called the storm of the century, but in the Gills Creek neighborhood, fast action saved lives.  Like many of their neighbors in the Gills Creek area, the damage was bad enough that Mike Parker and his family won’t be able to rebuild.

  Yesterday Governor Haley presented the results of a 2013 executive order directing state agencies to assess what the state owns. The Governor’s Department of Administration worked with a real estate firm, CBRE, to collect data and analyze how the state can save money on the buildings and properties. The state owns more than half a million acres of land and 7800 buildings. While CBRE’s assessment process is still ongoing, the firm has recommended three ways for the state to increase efficiency and save money. South Carolina Public Radio’s Laura Hunsberger has more.

Initial repair efforts at the Columbia Canal required the SC National Guard to lift giant sandbags into the breach.
SC Public Radio

When the October flood hit, two hospitals in downtown Columbia lost water pressure. The situation was critical as officials worked to restore water to the facilities.

Detail from the album cover for "Showcase" on Blue Note.
Blue Note Records

  Bop pianist George Wallington (1924 – 1993) was born in Sicily and moved to the United States with his family in the 1920s. He became a part of the New York music scene in the 1940s and played with greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, and Lionel Hampton. In 1960 he retired from music, but he reemerged in 1984. As a guest on this 1985 Piano Jazz, Wallington performs his composition “Godchild.”

News Stations: Oct 31, 8 pm | Classical Stations: Nov 1, 7 pm

Maria Contreras-Sweet

  Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, came to South Carolina to meet with local officials, residents, and business owners to talk about the ongoing recovery efforts after the historic flooding. Working alongside FEMA, the SBA offers disaster relief in the form of low interest rate loans for homeowners, renters, and business owners.

Kyle Eastwood
Jean-Baptiste Millot

  When bassist Kyle Eastwood was Marian McPartland’s guest in 1999, he had released his first solo album, From There to Here, one year earlier. Having led a quartet and worked as a session musician in the 1990s, Eastwood has gone on to a prolific career as a performer, recording artist, and composer for film and television. On this Piano Jazz, Eastwood and McPartland play a set including “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Stella by Starlight.”

News Stations: Oct 24, 8 pm | Classical Stations: Oct 25, 7 pm

  Tony Award-winning actress/vocalist Christine Ebersole has been a stage and screen presence for more than thirty years. Her resume includes the musical Grey Gardens , the Broadway production of Oklahoma! , the TV drama One Life to Live , and FX's American Horror Story: Coven . A recording artist as well as a performer, Ebersole presents a number of her favorite tracks, such as “Two for the Road” and “Shall We Dance?”

Sun, Oct 25 -- News Stations: 2 pm | Classical Stations: 6 pm

  Disaster Recovery Centers have opened across the state to answer questions and connect people with sources of aid. At a press conference yesterday, Governor Nikki Haley said the state will begin “Team South Carolina Days” to bring together multiple state agencies to assist those seeking help at the recovery centers. The first Team South Carolina Day is in Sumter on Friday, October 16, 2015 from 11 to 7 at the Sumter Civic Center. To volunteer or to find out more about this event and other help available through the United Way, call 211 or visit

Clean-up is underway but volunteers are still needed.
SC Public Radio

    A week after the storm that caused massive flooding in our state, South Carolinians are turning toward recovery and restoration. Thousands of National Guard troops are at work, and charitable organizations have donated hundreds of thousands of meals to people in need. Hundreds have been displaced by the disaster, and help is still needed across the state. 

  Vocalist Johnny Mathis started out with a string of hits in the 1950s and quickly became a household name. A two-time inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame, Mathis has one of the most popular albums of all time with Johnny's Greatest Hits , which spent nearly ten years on the Billboard Top Albums chart. This week, Mathis performs “On Such a Night As This,” as well as "Like Someone in Love" with host Feinstein at the keys.

Sun, Oct 18 -- News Stations: 2 pm | Classical Stations: 6 pm

FEMA Disaster Assistance Interview

    On this South Carolina Focus, Laura Hunsberger talks with Ryan Deal, FEMA External Affairs Officer, about how FEMA decides which counties are eligible for individual aid. The bottom line from Deal and Governor Haley: Everyone who had damage or losses from the floods should register with FEMA as a first step. Call 1-800-621-3362 or visit to register.

Officials are prepositioning for flooding in Charleston, Georgetown, Williamsburg, and Dorchester Counties. New shelters will open in those areas, and residents should be prepared to evacuate if instructed to do so by local officials. Governor Haley says the Department of Natural Resources will patrol the affected areas rigorously to keep people safe and make sure no one is left behind in evacuated neighborhoods. So far DNR has done more than 800 water rescues, and the Governor urges residents not to “sightsee” in flooded areas as DNR is still working to rescue people.

Anyone working in working in enclosed spaces where mold may have taken hold should were masks as well as gloves.
SC Public Radio/File Photo

  Governor Haley says the shelters do not currently need donations or volunteers. Right now, volunteer help is needed cleaning up debris in recovering neighborhoods. DHEC Director Catherine Heigel says volunteers should wear work gloves and boots and get a tetanus shot if needed. She says that if you are not sure whether or not you have gotten one in the past ten years, it is safe to go ahead and get a booster. On Sunday, DHEC plans to open localized clinics in the Midlands to assist volunteers, and local health clinics can also provide shots. For more information, visit

Secretary Jeh Johnson with Governor Nikki Haley (left) and other South Carolina officials.
U.S. Coast Guard

  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is visiting South Carolina today to meet with federal, state and local officials and assess the flooding and recovery efforts. He is scheduled to travel to Columbia and Charleston, but Congressman Jim Clyburn says he hopes to show the Secretary other areas affected by the flooding.

Extended Version:

  Newscast Version:

Flooded farm in Darlington County, SC, October 7, 2015
SC Department of Agriculture

  The State and U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Clemson formed an advisory committee this week to assess the damage of the flooding on rural counties. The projected crop loss is 300 million dollars. That includes only the direct impact to farmers.

Losses to the rural economy could be even more, and the full impact won’t be known until the harvest season is over. The state is requesting disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open assistance to farmers in impacted areas.

  The South Carolina Department of Transportation will begin roadside debris pick-up on Monday. Residents should sort items by category.

Raging waters of the Columbia Canal, Tue, Oct 6. Flood waters eventually breached the canal, which is the source of Columbia's drinking water.
Linda O'Bryon/SC Public Radio

  In the next 72 hours, the Jamestown area is anticipating flooding from the Santee River. Givhans Ferry also anticipates another 1 to 2 feet of water as a result of flooding on the Edisto River. Governor Haley urges residents to take this situation seriously and consider evacuation.

Flood waters are expected to remain for several days. Officials are also warning residents of Georgetown to consider evacuation. Citizens can call EMD at 1-866-246-0133 with questions. In an emergency call 911.

(File Photo)

  Shelters across the state have taken in hundreds of displaced people during the flooding, and communities have come together with donations for people who had to evacuate. To find out how to help or what items are needed most, visit ( or call 1-888-585-9643.

  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is visiting South Carolina today to meet with federal, state and local officials and assess the flooding and recovery efforts. He is scheduled to travel to Columbia and Charleston, but Congressman Jim Clyburn says he hopes to show the Secretary other areas affected by the flooding.

A levee that forms part of the Columbia Canal, breached by the flooding from record rainfall in South Carolina. (Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015)
Linda O'Bryon/SC Public Radio

  The rains have subsided but flooding continues to cause damage across the state. In Columbia, flooding caused water in downtown's Columbia Canal to breech a levee and flow out into the river. The National Guard and the city are working to stop the flow of water out of this reservoir. They are building a rock dam to slow the current enough to allow helicopters to fill the 60-foot breech.

Aerial view of the Charleston, S.C. area, Oct. 5, 2015.
U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann

In South Carolina flooding continues to disrupt daily life in many communities. Though the record rainfall of the last three days has abated, rivers continue to rise. At least 11 people have died in the state since the heavy rain began.

As Laura Hunsberger reports, concerns about dam breaches and flash flooding continue in the Midlands.

John Leventhal and Rosanne Cash
Courtesy of the artists

  Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash is the daughter of Country music icon Johnny Cash and one of the preeminent artists of her time. On this Song Travels , Cash and her husband and co-writer, John Leventhal, talk about their journey to the South to gather inspiration for their 2014 album, The River & The Thread . Performances include their original music, as well as a stirring cover of Bobbie Gentry's “Ode to Billie Joe.”

Sun, Oct 11 -- News Stations: 2 pm | Classical Stations: 6 pm

Effective through Monday morning, the National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Northeast Georgia, North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, including Greenville and Spartanburg. 8 to 12 inches of rain will be possible in these areas, which could result in life-threatening flash flooding. Another wave of heavy rain is expected tonight and flooding is likely along rivers and streams.

The City of Greenville is monitoring the conditions and residents can call the city’s helpline, Greenville Cares at 864-232-CARE. In an emergency, call 911.

Historic levels of rainfall are predicted for the Midlands. The city of Columbia’s Mayor Steve Benjamin says that although rain may not seem threatening, the roads may be dangerous. lists potentially dangerous intersections to avoid. A toll-free telephone line has been established for questions about the severe weather conditions in the state. Citizens with storm-related questions can call 1-866-246-0133 and the system will operate 24 hours a day while hazardous conditions persist. In an emergency, call 911.

  The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Charleston County, including downtown Charleston, until 4:00 pm.

The storm system caused by Hurricane Joaquin, combined with high tide on Saturday afternoon, will result in significant flooding. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says that even when the tide recedes, the rain will continue to create an unprecedented weather event.

  July 25/July 26, 2015: Corky Hale

Multi-instrumentalist Corky Hale has been blazing trails since her career began. She started piano at three, harp at eight, flute at ten, and cello at twelve. In the late 1950s, she became Mel Tormé's pianist and teamed up with Billie Holiday in Las Vegas and LA. On this Piano Jazz from 1993, Hale performs “Yesterdays” on the harp with Herb Michman joining on bass. She duets with McPartland on “Tea for Two.”