SC Features

Interviews, profiles, and and informational programming about the Palmetto State.

West Columbia's Elizabeth Gray is running marathons in all 50 states to call attention to the problem of domestic violence.   Her story has made her a finalist for the cover of Running World magazine.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray of West Columbia is a former Marine, but that didn’t protect her from domestic violence at home.  But as she escaped an abusive marriage, she discovered running, and as she crossed the finish line of her first marathon, she decided to use her running to call attention to the problem of domestic violence.  To that end, she has set a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states, and will be halfway to her goal by December.  Her efforts may gain her additional attention, as her compelling story has made her a finalist in a competition to be featured on the cover of Running World

Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio
Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio

Rafting Creek is a quiet stream that winds behind a cemetery, under a road, then through the woods - it's idyllic. But when rain began last year during the historic flood, the Sumter waterway started to fill up. As the storm continued, the area began to flood, sweeping diagonally over the cemetery, road, and woods themselves. The ground under the cemetery became saturated; the pressure of it caused the caskets to pop out of graves. Three thousand-pound vaults with coffins inside were carried several hundred feet into the woods across the road.

2015’s Historic Flood: Past, Present, and Future

Sep 28, 2016
Rachel Larratt stands among the wreckage in her community after the flood of October 4, 2015.
Courtesy of Rachel Larratt

Over the course of the year since the historic floods of October 2015, South Carolina Public Radio has shared with you numerous stories ranging from repairing homes and businesses, fixing roads and dams, to the personal stories of loss and survival.

On 2015’s Historic Flood: Past, Present, and Future we’ll bring you up-to-date on some of the people we’ve met … and some of the stories we’ve chronicled.

All Stations: Fri, Sep 30, 12 pm | News Stations: Sun, Oct 02, 4 pm

Aiken County cotton farmer Carl Brown overlooks one of his field.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

American consumers buy nearly 20 billion new items of clothing a year, many of them made of Southern cotton, but 98 percent made overseas.  A University of South Carolina professor wondered about the journey of cotton from South Carolina to China and back, and produced a documentary film about the people who grow the cotton and make the garments.  In this story, Prof. Laura Kissel talks about what she learned about the cotton-to-cloth-to-clothing process while making the film, and Aiken County farmer Carl Brown discusses the changes in cotton farming over the course of his career. 

Mopeds at Hawg Scooters, Rosewood Drive, Columbia. 2.	More South Carolinians are riding mopeds, and there are numerous reasons why.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    With the opening of the fall semester at colleges across the state, a multitude of students can be seen negotiating the streets on mopeds. But they are by no means the only riders. The use of these low-power scooters is exploding across South Carolina, and the nation. Today we talk with two dealers who explain the phenomenon, as well as a rider who tells of the advantages he gets from his moped.

Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea both experienced two flood evacuations with their respective children, pictured here.
Elizabeth Webb

        Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea survived South Carolina's flood last October before surviving a second massive flood in West Virginia this summer. Their children, who were with them in both evacuations, have struggled with trauma from these disasters, like so many of the elementary-age children that Elizabeth and Louise teach.

Tens of thousands of purple martins return to Bomb Island at dusk.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Purple martins have roosted on Bomb Island in Lake Murray every summer for decades to prepare for their annual migration to South America. Numbering at least in the tens of thousands, if not more, the birds gather at dusk in great clouds around the island as they return from a day’s hunting for beetles, dragonflies and other high-flying insects.

Louise Cruea (left) and Elizabeth Webb took refuge in West Virginia after Webb's Lake Katherine area home was flooded in October, 2015. Then, in June, they found themselves victims of that state's record-breaking floods.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

  Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea both experienced South Carolina’s “thousand-year flood” firsthand. Last October, both women and their families were evacuated from their Lake Katherine homes as the rain bore down on Columbia. They believed that they had lived through an once-in-a-lifetime disaster, but when Webb and Cruea went with their children to stay at a family home in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, they were caught once again in a devastating flood.

Just southwest of bustling Charleston, S.C., lies a lush and rural gem called Wadmalaw Island, one of the Sea Islands that dot the shoreline. This is the home of the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only large-scale commercial tea plantation in America.

Food tourists get good food and a history lesson during a food tour on Columbia's Main Street.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    While most folks know that tourism is South Carolina’s number one industry, many do not know that food tourism is a growing phenomenon around the state. Brian Cole operators a food tourism business in Columbia, and conducts his clients each weekend on visits to about six different restaurants to sample the fare and learn about the eateries’ specialties and history.

Marwan Marzagao and other men in his neighborhood used pontoon boats like these to navigate the water and deliver neighbors to safety.
Marwan Marzagao

  In the neighborhoods surrounding Lake Katherine, one of the most heavily flooded areas in Columbia last October, locals went from house to house on Jon boats and pontoons to rescue neighbors who were trapped in their flooded homes. Marwan Marzagao recalls working as a team with other men as they saved others from harm’s way.

A statue of Shoeless Joe Jackson in Greenville.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  He was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson of Greenville carried the third highest lifetime batting average with him when he was banned from baseball for allegedly helping throw the 1919 World Series with other members of the Chicago White Sox. We talk today with Rob Young, president of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville. Jackson’s banishment from baseball has been controversial for nearly a century. Young is a proponent of Jackson’s innocence, a position which Jackson maintained until his death.

Rachel Larratt stands among the wreckage in her community after the flood of October 4, 2015.
Courtesy of Rachel Larratt

In the South Beltline and Gills Creek area of Columbia, many homes were extensively damaged by last October's flood. Rachel Larratt, a survivor turned volunteer from this area, reflects on the water rising in her own home, as well as the deflated spirits of other survivors who are still struggling to recover from the disaster. 

For healthy summer eating a Columbia chef has prepared a barbecue sandwich substituting jackfruit for pork.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  People think of certain foods more often in the summer – barbecue on the grill, or maybe ice cream or watermelon. They can actually crave certain foods during various seasons, according to nutritionist Trisha Mandes and USC Public Health Professor Brie Turner-McGrievey. The reason is often that people can have low-grade addictions to some foods because they release chemicals in the brain that make them feel good – an opiate-like effect, says Mandes. High on the list of addictive foods is cheese.

Blair and Hal Lindsey outside their wedding reception venue on Senate street in Columbia, while the rains of the beginning stages of the flood poured around them.
Amy Jo Photography

    On Friday, October 2, 2015, Blair Minick listened heartbroken to the next day’s weather forecast. On Saturday, she was supposed to marry her fiancé, Hal Lindsey, by the Saluda River. As the rain began to fall, all of her carefully laid plans seemed doomed to fall through, but in fact the flood only proved Blair and Hal’s commitment to one another.

Jeremy and Lacie Cannon in their family’s Turbeville farmhouse.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

  A fourth generation farmer, Jeremy Cannon was always confident in what his family’s future held. But when October’s flood decimated many of his crops, the Cannons’ future was suddenly called into question. In this episode of Narrative, Jeremy and his wife Lacie reflect on the struggle for their business pull through the loss of their crops in 2015.

Thomas Lauderdale
Thomas Lauderdale

If you listen to NPR on your way home from work, you're probably familiar with the voice of Ari Shapiro. He's reported around the world and as of last year, he's one of the hosts of All Things Considered.  But when he's on vacation, he uses his voice in a different way. For the past seven years, Shapiro has been a regular guest singer with the "Little Orchestra" known as Pink Martini.  Cooper McKim talks with Ari Shapiro about his career as a performer.

Sweet, delicious South Carolina peaches are as good as it gets in the summer.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Hot summer nights and high humidity may be annoying to humans, but they’re great for one of the state’s favorite agricultural product: juicy, delicious peaches. Peach farmer Chalmers Carr of Ridge Spring tells us with pride that while Georgia may call itself the “peach state,” his farm alone grows more peaches than the entire state of Georgia. And according to Matt Cornwell of the state Department of Agriculture, researchers are investigating the use of technology such as drones to aid farmers in determining things such as number of peaches on trees, or potential problems with them.

Language immersion teachers at a recent conference held with the SC Department of Education.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  As foreign businesses such as BMW, Volvo and Michelin invest more in the Palmetto State, their languages (German, French, Swedish and more) will increasingly expose young South Carolinians to cultures their parents didn’t encounter. The S.C. Department of Education has begun, at the request of parents around the state, language immersion programs for students, focusing on Kindergarten through grade 5, though some continue into high school.

The Latham family was rescued by neighbors in jon boats like this one. The water rose high enough to cover cars and street signs, and flowed so fast that only jon boats could navigate the water.
Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio

  Julie Latham lives with her family in the Lake Katherine community of Columbia, SC, where her home was destroyed by floodwaters. Julie reflects on her family’s rescue by jon boat and her elderly neighbor’s harrowing struggle for survival as the waters continued to rise.

  Ten people drown every day in the United States. Many of them thought they could swim, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37 percent of American adults can’t swim the length of a pool. The U.S. Masters swimming organization has begun a national campaign to teach adults to swim. The program has come to Charleston, where aquatics manager Jennifer Ayers-Millar says that while adults are more fearful of water if they don’t learn to swim as children, the program is teaching adults to manage their fear.

  In a vault at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library reside numerous collections of rare books and papers from some of the world’s great writers – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Robert Burns, to name a few. Elizabeth Suddeth, director of Rare Books and Special Collections, takes us to the vault and talks about how the library attracted these collections, and its growing reputation as a destination for researchers and a magnet for prestigious literary collections.

The South Carolina Cornbread Festival features a cornbread eating contest among other fun events that help celebrate a favorite staple of the Southern diet.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

South Carolinians celebrate elements of the state’s culture in festivals all over the state, and especially its foodstuffs, from peaches to peanuts.  So it’s natural that they would establish a festival to proclaim their love for another traditional culinary favorite – cornbread.  In today’s report, a visit to the South Carolina Cornbread Festival  reveals that there’s more to it than the traditional buttered variety found in many homes.  Festival organizer Sabrina Odom tells us that people make cornbread in a large variety of styles and flavors, from pineapple cornbread to sweet potato cor

Classes have resumed at the Pavlovich School of Ballet after October’s flood nearly destroyed the building.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

On October 3, 2015, the Pavlovich Ballet School in Columbia was enjoying its newly-renovated facility, including state-of-the-art sound equipment and a new dance floor completed just two months earlier.  The next day owner Radenko Pavlovich watched eight feet of water send the piano floating through the studio, destroying it and everything else. On the first of April, the dance studio finally re-opened. Tut Underwood reports on its process of recovery.

Betsy Fleming
Courtesy Converse College

  Betsy Fleming, outgoing president of Converse College in Spartanburg, talks with Walter Edgar about her 11 years leading the 125-year-old institution dedicated to offering women a high quality, liberal arts education. Fleming became President of Converse in October 2005.  After reducing the tuition by 43 percent, the school became a national leader in affordability and value. Fleming has said that the tuition reset was an important marker in transforming the college's future.

  A familiar sight on Southern country roads, and sometimes in towns, is kudzu.  The ubiquitous and fast-growing vine was imported from Asia as a decorative plant in the late 19th century, and promoted during the 1930s and 40s as forage for livestock and control for erosion.  According to Clemson Extension agent Dr. Tim Davis, it didn’t quite work out that way.  The plant, which can grow up to a foot a day, spread rapidly throughout the South.  But Davis and Dr.

Great Horned Owl
Greg Hume

  On select weekend nights throughout the year, Congaree National Park in Richland County offers the public a glimpse – or, more accurately, usually an earful – of nature when it conducts its popular Owl Prowls.

A coyote
ForestWander.com

    Wildlife does not recognize borders, and so in 1978, a non-native species, welcomed or not, moved into the Palmetto State – the coyote. It has not only caused problems for hunters (where it has affected the deer population) and livestock farmers (where it preys on cattle, goats and more), but also has moved into cities, causing concerns among people not used to seeing these wild predators. 

This year’s session of the S.C. General Assembly has come to an end.  In the final days state lawmakers finally passed a major roads funding bill.  Russ McKinney has this round up of the week of this year's session.

With only a few weeks left in this legislative session, this week has seen a flurry of action on various gun bills in the South Carolina General Assembly.  Host Russ McKinney has this look back on the week in the South Carolina Legislature.

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