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Jeremy Cannon of Cannon Ag Products is one of many farmers who is still recovering from the flood of October 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

In September 2015, many farmers in South Carolina were looking forward to a promising harvest. The drought that began in 2014 had subsided in time for at least one crop to flourish remarkably well: by the time October rolled in, full, glistening fields of white cotton spread through rural South Carolina, just shy of ready for harvest. It seemed that farmers would see a rich reward for the stress of the long, dry months that preceded.

The Inclement Weather Center is located at 191 Calhoun Street, and opens on winter nights that are forecasted at 40 degrees or below.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Winter is an especially difficult time of year for unhoused South Carolinians. As temperatures dip below freezing throughout the season, the threat of hypothermia is ever-present. That’s why several nonprofits in the Midlands have forged together each winter since 2014 to sponsor Columbia’s Inclement Weather Center (IWC), open from November 1 to March 31 on nights when the temperature is 40 degrees or below.

A satellite view of Hurricane irma on September 5, 2017.
NOAA

Last month, the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season finally came to a close. From June 1 to Nov. 30, South Carolinians were encouraged by SCEMD and other state agencies to be on high alert, especially after the severe storm impacts the state received during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Now that hurricane season has wrapped up, we called on John Qualiariello, a Columbia-based meteorologist for the National Weather Service, to reflect.

Flooding from Hurricane Irma near Charleston Harbor
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season comes to a close this week, officially ending November 30.  It was one of the most active and costliest to hit the United States, with 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes, six of which were major with winds of 110 milers per hour or more.  With such monster storms as Harvey, Irma and Maria, many are still struggling physically and mentally in the  aftermath.  The Medical University  of South Carolina in Charleston is now researching the impact of those hurricanes on mental health as it develops a new smart phone app.

Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia commemorated his city's commitment to the Sierra Club's Ready for 100 Campaign in May.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio.

Since President Trump announced the U.S. would exit the Paris Climate Agreement back in June, redoubled support for the agreement has come from the local level, with mayors from around the nation pledging their cities' support for the Agreement.

Richland County meteorologist Ken Aucoin checks the weather several times daily to give accurate reports to county emergency managers.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Weather is constantly monitored in South Carolina by meteorologists for TV stations and the National Weather Service. But to keep people informed of—and protected from—threatening weather, Richland County has a unique advantage as the only county in the state, and perhaps one of few in the nation, to have its own meteorologist. Ken Aucoin is both the county’s meteorologist and an emergency manager, thus making the county uniquely positioned to respond quickly to bad weather.

Watching the Winds

Lou Alice James is the 200th homeowner to receive assistance from the Midlands Flood Recovery Group. Here, she clings to the one family heirloom that survived the mold, a crystal candlestick.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Early this month, South Carolina reached the 2-year anniversary of the devastating October 2015 rain event, offering a natural opportunity to pause and observe the many tragedies that the widespread flooding wrought, and the many triumphs of recovery that have followed. The Midlands Flood Recovery Group, for its part, celebrated a significant milestone in its flood recovery narrative this month: the 200th home repaired by the group and the gift of a restored home for one resilient flood survivor.

Retired Army Major Miguel Santana stands in front of his home in Columbia. Santana says he is a victim of contractor fraud and it's stalling his flood recovery.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio.

Since 2005, the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) has received over 70,000 complaints from 50 states, 6 territories, and 4 countries involving over 50 natural and man-made disasters. Retired Army Major Miguel Santana says after the October 2015 flood, he became a victim of contractor fraud. His costly mistake is stalling recovery for what was to be his retirement home.

Another Nichols family returns to a repaired home
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

About 75 families have returned to repaired homes in Nichols, South Carolina. The small town in Marion County was home to 260 homes before Hurricane Matthew brought strong winds and devastating floods in 2016.  All but three sustained flood damage and most businesses were also impacted.  South Carolina Public Radio spoke with Mayor Lawson Battle and Disaster Recovery Advisor Rita Pratte about progress in recovery, one year after Matthew.

Instructors and presenters from Richland County's Flood Ready Seniors event. From left to right: Ben Marosites, Natasha Lemon, Winta Adams, and Sharon Long.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

If the past two years have taught South Carolinians anything, it’s that disasters are never out of the question, especially during hurricane season. County officials across the state have placed emphasis throughout 2017’s hurricane season on preparing the public for weather-related emergencies, putting their experience responding to the historic flood of 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 to good use.

Faces of Recovery: For the past two years, South Carolina Public Radio has shared the stories of survival and recovery from the Oct. 2015 flood.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

Two years ago, Mary Burch watched and prayed as heavy rains caused the underneath of her family home to flood and eventually rot. Months later, the 77-year- old Sellers resident was living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions as mold started to grow and the structure of her homw was compromised from the flood. The week of the two-year anniversary of the October 2015 flood, Burch was able to walk through her near-finished new home. 

Clemson researchers are studying the role wetlands have in exporting carbon during floods and severe weather events. Shown here are wetlands of the Hobcaw Barony, home to Clemson's Belle W. Baruch Institute.
Dr. Bob Pohlad of Ferrum College via Flickr

It's no secret that access to drinking water can be limited during severe weather events. But what about the days and weeks that follow? According to research from Clemson's Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, water can still be unsafe weeks after residents' access to water has been restored.

NASA image of Hurricane Irma:: A series of massive hurricanes have threatened and impacted parts of the Caribbean.
NASA

As Hurricane Maria continues to move forward, mandatory evacuations have been ordered for parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Here in South Carolina, hospitals are receiving patients evacuated from islands decimated by the storm.

Once Irma hit, Joseph Jones of had second thoughts about his decision to ride out the storm at home.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

The blistering sun is back.   But Monday's swollen flood waters from Tropical Storm Irma are slowly seeping away,  leaving a once anxious Charleston community relieved, yet tender.

"When the wind got a little stronger, nothing compared to Hugo, but I started to think my son might be right.  I should have left," said 76 year-old Joseph Jones.  He lives two blocks from the intra-coastal waterway and rode out Hurricane Hugo in his small, ground level, one story home.  "But after a while, when the water started receding after Irma, I knew I made the right decision."  He says his home saw no real damage.  But mentally he feels raw.

File: Gov. Henry McMaster and members of the Tropical Storm Irma response team - Mon, Sep 11, 2017.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster's briefing on the effects of Tropical Storm Irma, and the progress of recovery: Tuesday, September 12, 10:00 a.m., South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD).

File: Gov. Henry McMaster and members of the Tropical Storm Irma response team - Mon, Sep 11, 2017.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

At a 2pm briefing at the SCEMD command center, Governor Henry McMaster and his team addressed wind damage, road closures, shelter availability, flooding, and other concerns as Tropical Storm Irma makes its way through South Carolina.

"We are very proud of the way citizens have responded to our urgings and warnings, and information. This has been a plan that has gone according to the way it was devised." Governor McMaster said.

Governor Henry McMaster and emergency team give a briefing on Hurricane Irma, Sun, Sep 10, 2pm.
SCETV

Governor Henry McMaster addressed the public from South Carolina's Emergency Management Division on Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 2 p.m. 

While the storm has moved more westward than originally anticipated, South Carolina is expected to still see impacts, particularly to the south and west of Interstate 26 (I-26). 

Hurricane Irma made landfall along the lower Flordia Keys as a Category 4 hurricane. Irma has been approaching the southwest Florida coast, with winds up to 130 miles per hour (mph).

Tropical-storm-force wind speed probabilities, Sun, Sep 10 through Fri, Sep 15.
National Hurricane Center

CHARLESTON – State and local officials continue tell residents to take precautions or evacuate from historic and flood-prone areas ahead of hazardous conditions from Hurricane Irma coming to the area this evening.

“When it happens tomorrow, during the middle of the day, it’s going to be right when we have a full moon high tide,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said at a press conference.

Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst

Sep 9, 2017
Governor Henry McMaster addressed the public in a press conference from South Carolina's Emergency Management Division at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2017.
SCETV

Governor Henry McMaster addressed the public in a press conference from South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

Governor McMaster expressed his pride in the way that Team South Carolina had worked diligently to devise a “grand plan” to ensure the safety of South Carolinians in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

“You plan your work, and you work your plan.” the Governor said.

Friday Hurricane Irma Update Press Conference
www.scetv.org

Friday, Gov. Henry McMaster said the final decision to declare a mandatory evacuation has been delayed until after 5 PM, that’s when the Governor and other members of “Team South Carolina" will receive more information from the National Hurricane Center. McMaster said he hopes to make an announcement sometime after 6 PM, but stressed that residents should continue to prepare for mandatory evacuations to begin on Saturday at 10 AM as scheduled.

Cary's Lake Dam in Richland County failed during the October 2015 rain event.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

As the state prepares for possible impacts from Hurricane Irma, the department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is advising dam owners and operates to safely lower water levels.

In a statement Thursday, the agency warned that hurricane force winds can uproot trees. The loss of soil in that area can impact the structural integrity of a dam. It can provide a path for water from the pond to exit in an uncontrolled manner. Dam owners and operators should use functional gates or flashboards for additional storage for the anticipated rainfall…

Sept. 7 Hurricane Irma Update News Conference
www.scetv.org

South Carolina is planning for a category 4 storm to impact the state starting Saturday. During a press conference Thursday, Gov. McMaster said 800 SC National Guardsmen have been activated. Sunday, September 10th, 2500 Guardsmen will be on duty and by Tuesday, September 11th 5000 guardsmen will be on duty.

McMaster said as of 2pm Thursday, healthcare facilities along the coast in potential impact zones are ordered to evacuate. Those are facilities in the following counties: Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Dorchester, Berkeley, Horry, Charleston and Georgetown.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson implemented the state's law against price gouging Wednesday.
SCETV

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson implemented the state's law against price gouging Wednesday, following the governor’s state of emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Irma.

"With the possibility that Hurricane Irma could make landfall in South Carolina, our people have already started making preparations," Wilson said in a statement. "We can expect normal price increases, but we may see businesses and individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of food, gasoline, lodging, and other commodities, as defined by the statute."

Flooded dunes on Sullivan's Island before Hurricane Irma hit the Carolina coast.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Tourists are attracted to Charleston not just for its history, but also for its beautiful ocean views and beach access. But the ocean’s rising levels also pose a major threat to coastal cities like Charleston, especially when they combine with large rain events like the hurricanes the city has weathered over past years. Since 2014, Charleston’s streets have been flooded consistently more often, from 11 days in 2014, to 38 days in 2015 and 50 days in 2016. 

Gov. McMaster holds press conference about Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sep 6, 2017. McMaster declared a state of emergency for South Carolina.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio.

Gov. Henry McMaster has declared a state of emergency in South Carolina to help prepare for a possible strike early next week from Hurricane Irma.

During a press conference Wednesday, McMaster stressed the declaration is a precaution and not an evacuation order. But he also urged residents to get ready for the possibility of Irma impacting the state.

"Pretend that a category three hurricane is arriving tomorrow morning, and do what you would do then, now."

Listen to the Complete Press Conference:

Georgetown Family Gets New Home Following 2015 Floods

Sep 6, 2017

The Bennett family is a tight knit group, but far from  small. There are 9 children, 6 women and 3 men.  Even those  who've  been around the family  long enough are considered kin.  All affectionately call 97 year-old Louise Chandler Bennett, "Momma" and are thankful for her new home.  Momma  just received the first so called, "stick built home" in the state,  following the 2015 floods.

Residents in Nichols, SC are rescued by boat after Hurricane Matthew in 2016
Courtesty of Nichols resident Courtney Wilds

The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) website reminds that electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working and that public safety services such as police and fire departments may not be able to reach you immediately during a serious crisis.

The agency recommends individuals should be prepared to be self-sufficient (able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones) for at least three days following a disaster.

This sign, erected by Clemson's Belle W. Baruch Institute, marks a plot that was originally a research environment for trees affected by Hurricane Hugo. In October 2016 the plot was affected by Hurricane Matthew as well.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

The Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown, South Carolina is a rare place. Situated between the Winyah Bay estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, the property contains both freshwater habitats and salt marshes, interspersed with loblolly and longleaf pine forests. The variable ecosystems that Hobcaw supports make it the ideal site for university research centers such as Clemson University’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science.

Columbia Canal Rebuild Could Be Years Away

Aug 29, 2017
View of the Columbia Canal from Riverfront Park
Laura Hunsberger

During the 2015 floods, the Columbia Canal breached at the Congaree River. It took the National Guard and a team of engineers days to build a temporary dam and secure the city’s water supply. In the months that followed, the City of Columbia began considering how to rebuild the canal and make improvements, a process that is still ongoing.

Lexington County Flood-damged home being rebuilt to new elevation guidelines
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated an additional $5 million to Lexington County REBOUND (REBuilding Our Neighborhoods after Disaster), the County's Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR). REBOUND is designed to address the unmet needs of people whose property sustained damage during the October 2015.

"Some of the remaining flood issues are just those homes," said County spokesperson Harrison Cahill. "We still have some people who are out of their homes."

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