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Richland County celebrates the first new mobile home given to a 2015 flood survivor.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

For the past two years, South Carolina has been in recovery mode. Long-term recovery for families, business and municipalities, following the historic rain event and flood of October 2015, is seen in almost every county. Recently, during National Community Development Week, Richland County celebrated the first home in its flood recovery program given to a flood survivor. The event marked a major milestone in the County’s recovery program and also presented a second chance at recovery for those still living in unsafe and conditions.

The 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index was released in April. A program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the index gauges each state's response to emergent situations affecting public health.
nhspi.org

It’s that time again. Spring is in full swing, and so are preparations for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. The National Weather Service is preparing to recognize National Hurricane Preparedness Week in early May, and will partner with the state’s Emergency Management Division to sponsor South Carolina Hurricane Preparedness week beginning May 27.

Lowcountry Mayors Unite in Fight Against Sea Level Rise

Apr 27, 2018
Beaufort Waterfront
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Both have historic homes, waterfront parks and battery walls,  as well as  reputations for hospitality.  Charleston was named the  best southern city this year by Southern Living Magazine.  Last year, Beaufort was awarded best small town.  But that’s not all these two Lowcountry communities have in common.

“We’re sort of like brothers,” said Beaufort Mayor Keyserling.  He’s referring to his life-long, family friendship with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.  Their cities may be 70 miles apart, but the two catch up by phone at least once or twice a week.

The new Four Paws Animal Clinic recently opened a few blocks from its former location after more than two years of operations in a temporary building while it recovered from the 2015 flood and sought the right place for its new home.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

For some, the so-called “thousand-year rain” and the floods that followed it in October 2015 may seem an event long past, but many are still recovering from the storm’s devastation.  For some businesses in Richland County, the after effects of the floods continue to pose particular difficulties. Take the Four Paws Animal Clinic, which was forced to operate out of a temporary location for more than two years after the flood, when the business' original building bordering Gills Creek was ruined.

Popular State Park Reopens after Hurricane Damage

Apr 25, 2018
Hunting Island State Park Campground area.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

There’s a stop sign for campers pulling into Hunting Island State Park.  But visitors have likely slowed down long before.  The island has been closed for nearly two years following Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.  To the right of the entrance, campers once enjoyed breath taking beachside views.  Now storm damage takes their breath away.

The Williamsburg Regional Hospital's building in Kingstree was irreparably damaged during the 2015 floods.
Laura Hunsberger

For more than a year, the Williamsburg Regional Hospital has been serving patients from a temporary facility located right next to their old building. The hospital was damaged beyond repair during the thousand-year floods. Eventually, the hospital determined that they had to move out of the old building.

The stage at the eighth annual River Rocks Music Festival. Damages caused by the floods of 2015 forced the festival to relocate from its usual location at Riverfront Park.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

On a sunny patch of open space along the Congaree River in Columbia, the eighth annual River Rocks Festival brought hundreds of residents out last weekend to enjoy the spring weather and learn about the conservation efforts of the region’s Congaree Riverkeeper and their partners. In between acts, a man took the stage to pump up the crowd.

Raised house at 42 Rutledge Avenue back on a new foundation.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

How do you raise a large, historic home?  Better yet, how do you put it back down?  Should such an old  home be raised at all?  All are tough questions in a city that until recently had never lifted one before.

“There’s a lot of head scratching going on,” said long-time contractor Gary Walters.  He’s been working on a massive home at 42 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston, S.C. since last fall.  That’s when  its owner, Jack Margolies, finally got approval from the city’s Board of Architectural Review to raise the 1859 structure.

The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office provides home repairs and replacements to victims of the 2015 floods and Hurricane Matthew.
SCDRO

For the past few years, we've brought you a lot of stories about recovery from the 2015 floods and Hurricane Matthew. Many people across the state might be wondering "isn't this recovery taking a long time?" As JR Sanderson, Program Director for the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office, explains, the answer is yes—and no. 

The landscape of Sesquicentennial State Park was permanently altered by the floods of 2015. Pictured here is standing water that remains from the event.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Between the autumns of 2015 and 2017, 47 of South Carolina’s state parks experienced temporary closures due to damages sustained during severe weather events, including the Floods of 2015, Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irma and the Pinnacle Mountain Wildfire at Table Rock State Park. February marked an important milestone: for the first time since the fall of 2015, every affected park was reopened.

Meteorologist John Quagliariello of the National Weather Service encouraged preparedness for tornadoes, floods and other severe weather at a press conference on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

According to an official proclamation from Governor Henry McMaster, this week is Severe Weather and Flood Safety Awareness Week in South Carolina. It’s an occasion intended to encourage South Carolinians to prepare for potential severe weather scenarios.  

Charleston Chief Resilience Officer Mark Wilbert at the Battery.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Mark Wilbert has been the man the city of Charleston has turned to in case of emergencies.  He helped people prepare for Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.   He was there after 9 parishioners at Mother Emanuel were killed.   Last August, he planned for a crowd of thousands in town for the solar eclipse.  Now the former city Emergency Management Director has a new job.  He's Charleston's first ever Chief Resilience officer.

Hurricane Katrina, August 28, 2005.
NOAA

Back in January, a diverse group of Midlands community members congregated at the United Way of the Midlands. Among the 20 or so assembled guests were lawyers, businesspeople, nonprofit staffers, and a vet. What they held in common was their shared action after a terrible natural disaster 12 years ago, when Hurricane Katrina battered the gulf coast.

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.

Surfboard Sledding in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, SC.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

A winter storm brought rare snow and ice to South Carolina's Lowcountry last week. With a thaw finally in the weather forecast for the coast, and winter weather advisories in the Upstate, it's a good time to look back on the unusual--and beautiful--sights in the greater Charleston area, as captured last week by South Carolina Public Radio's Victoria Hansen.

The Holy City Hails Near Record Snowstorm

Jan 4, 2018
Surfboard Sledding in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, SC.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Parents packed up golf carts like snow mobiles as kids grabbed their sea worthy boogie boards and headed out in search of higher ground.  Hills are hard to come by in the Lowcountry.  But then again, so is snow.  Charleston got a rare thrill Wednesday.  More than five inches of snow swirled through palm fronds and gathered on the ground.  It's the most snow the area has seen since Hurricane Hugo and it would be enjoyed.

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).

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