SC News

News from and about the Palmetto State.

Harmony School teacher Jennifer Mancke admires the mural made by student in the flood-damaged preschool building that will require about $400,000 to repair.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

At Harmony School, a private school in the Columbia suburb of Forest Acres, children learn in a couple of portable classrooms that were pressed into service after last October’s historic flood.  The move was required because the flood rendered the school’s largest building, its preschool, unusable.  Just 2 to 4 inches from the overflow of adjacent Gills Creek was all it took to cause $400,000 worth of damage.  Director Debbie Holmes and teacher Jennifer Mancke talk about the event and the school’s efforts to raise money for its repair.  Even the school’s students are pitching in.    

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard/Credit Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann

The National Flood Insurance Program has a problem.

More than 5 million people, mainly in coastal states, have policies through it, but the federal program is in more than $23 billion in debt. Experts feel reforms are needed as the 2017 renewal approaches. One of those people is Howard Kunreuther, co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Risk Management and Decision Process Center. He was part of a study last year focused on Charleston, South Carolina.

Lawmakers Consider New Dam Safety Regulations

Sep 9, 2016
South Carolina House Chamber
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Nearly one year after the October 2015 flood where breached dams caused destruction, regulators are trying to codify new rules for the structures.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control reports 52 dams were breached during the historic flooding last fall. The agency is proposing that dam owners update contact information and emergency plans yearly and that future regulation cover smaller dams. The agency regulates more than 2,300 dams statewide. DHEC is also suggesting that dams that pose greater risk are inspected more frequently.

Volunteers work on Flood-damaged house
Thelisha Eaddy / SC Public Radio

Volunteers and charitable organizations are essential to long-term disaster recovery. They gut houses, hang dry wall, fix roofs, remove mold along with a plethora of other needed services. But housing out-of-state volunteers for weeks or months at a time can be challenging. Thelisha Eaddy talks with United Way of Midlands Disaster Recovery Manager Michael Hagins, about how, 11 months after October’s flood, housing is an issue for both flood survivors and the volunteers who want to help them.

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.

Gary Bolton of Strawberry Skys recording studio, Columbia, runs a session. Strawberry Skys is one of about 20 professional recording studios in South Carolina.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  As recording technology continues to improve, recording studios are finding themselves in an ironic struggle to survive against that very technology. The owners of two recording studios in the Columbia area say they often find themselves being undercut by technology that allows many artists to record at home and skip the recording studio altogether – or almost.

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

In West Columbia, Lake Murray is the source of water for 60,000 nearby residents. Before anyone can turn on their sink though, the water has to be treated for taste, cleaning, and safety. This past July, the treatment process ran into a problem: there was a contaminant present.  It's called haloacetic acid, a carcinogenic, and it was above the legal limit of what the plant should be sending out to citizens. Cooper McKim has the story.


Predicted track for Tropical Storm Hermine.

  People in potentially vulnerable areas throughout South Carolina should review their plans and consider actions they would need to take as the storm moves through the state.  Residents and visitors should monitor the storm via local news media and through updates from local National Weather Service offices, especially people in low-lying areas throughout the State.

SCE&G Braces for Hermine

Sep 1, 2016
Predicted path of Hermine.

  SCE&G is bracing for impact from Tropical Storm Hermine. The current forecast suggests that this tropical storm will have its biggest impact Friday afternoon through Friday evening in the low country and coastal areas where the forecast calls for about 4-6” of rain and wind gusts up to 45 mph. SCE&G will also be on the lookout for tornadoes in and around the eye. All of these conditions have the potential to cause power outages.

Estimated rainfall from Tropical Storm Hermine (from The National Weather Service).Credit NOAA/NWSEdit | Remove

  Due to the potential for windy conditions and heavy rain along the South Carolina coast, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division today increased its operating condition to Level 4. The Division is encouraging people in South Carolina to monitor the situation, make plans and take precautions.

Tropical Storm Hermine, in the Gulf of Mexico, is growing stronger as it approaches the Florida coast, the National Hurricane Center says.

The storm, which has been moving very slowly, is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall north of Tampa likely early Friday. It's then predicted to pass overland toward the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, weakening as it goes.

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.

More Private Physicians Connecting With Telehealth

Aug 24, 2016
Alexandra Olgin

There aren’t many doctors left in Bamberg. Those that remain are clustered around the old hospital. Since it closed four years ago, patients have had fewer options for care. Which means the doctors who stayed, like Danette McAlhaney are busy.

“There is seldom a time here when we are slow,” she said. ”We just stay busy all the time.”

When McAlhaney isn’t treating people herself, they are still coming to her office to have appointments with other doctors, who are hours away, through a television screen.  

Cory Alpert
Cory Alpert

University of South Carolina vs. Louisiana State University. October 10, 2015. USC expected to welcome the Tigers into their home football stadium until the weather had a different plan. Just a week after a major flood, the roads to South Carolina were inaccessible. LSU offered up their stadium along with the home team side, and billboards welcoming USC to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Ten months later, the favor is being returned. Cooper McKim has the story.



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.

Janey Heath standing in her backyard
Thelisha Eaddy / SC Public Radio

In Lexington County, Kinley Creek starts north of Highway 60 and ends in the Saluda River. The path of the creek runs behind several houses in the Challedon community. Long-time residents say during heavy rains, rushing waters enter their homes and erode their yards. These residents say they’ve dealt with flooding since the late 1990s and are ready for a permanent solution. Thelisha Eaddy reports on how the county could use disaster recovery funds from the historic flood of October of 2015, to help these residents solve their flooding issues for good.

The South Carolina Drought Response Committee upgraded on August 17 drought conditions in 17 counties. All  46 counties are now in drought according to the State Drought Response Committee.
SC Department of Natural Resources

Even as some communities in the state continue to deal with the aftermath of last fall’s record flooding, all 46 South Carolina counties are now in a drought according to the official State Drought Response Committee.  The committee on August, 17, 2016 placed 39 counties in the “Incipient Drought” category, the first stage of drought.  Seven counties in the northwest corner of the state are in the “Moderate Drought” category, the second drought stage.

Nuisance Flooding In Charleston - The Not So New Normal

Aug 17, 2016
Alexandra Olgin

A guard unchains a locked metal fence topped with barbed wire at the edge of the cruise ship terminal in Charleston. In this protected area is a tide gauge made up of a hollow white PVC pipe connected to computer equipment. A gauge like this one has been measuring water levels in Charleston Harbor for nearly a century.

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.

Drummer Paul Riddle
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio


  Paul Riddle helped put Spartanburg on the musical map as the drummer for the original Marshall Tucker Band. Today he teaches drums in Greenville and can’t believe his good fortune that he’s able to work with young people while playing the drums all day. In this segment, the nationally esteemed musician recounts stories of the Tucker Band, and a longtime (20 years!) student and a fellow teacher comment on his remarkable skills and his commitment to music.

Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

In early February, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded South Carolina $157 million in disaster recovery funds. Lexington County got $16.3 million or about a tenth of those funds.

Courtesy of the Union of Concerned Scientists

A recent study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy group, shows parts of Parris Island could be underwater within 40 years if sea levels rise at projected levels. According to the report, with three feet of sea level rise nearly one half of the installation could would be exposed to flooding with each high tide.  

The Carolina Panthers practice at Wofford College.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

  Over 100,00 fans have already visited Spartanburg for this year's training camp providing a boost for Wofford and the City of Spartanburg .

Ward Marotti cuts through thick vegetation. Beneath him rest drain pipes that will be daylighted as part of the Northside Linear Park creek restoration.
Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio

At first glance, Harvest Park doesn’t look like much. There’s a café and a farmers market. An urban farmer tends to some green plants growing in a small plot. At the end of the block, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine stands taller than the rest of the buildings. But they are all pieces in a long-term plan to transform a community.

A stream meanders through the dry, weed-choked bed of Cary Lake.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

  The rain of Oct. 4, 2015 is an event many  South Carolinians will never forget.  The historic rains broke many local dams in the state, especially in the Midlands.  Months later, as weed-choked craters represent what once were beautiful lakes, the property owners are beginning to decide how to recover.  

James Quantz
James Quantz

University of South Carolina is sending three current students to this summer's Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. One will be competing in Track & Field, one for swimming, and one for diving. All of them are international students competing for their home countries. The school's athletics department says that's not surprising. Cooper McKim has the story.

Mercedes-Benz is expanding its North Charleston facility to produce vans. It is expected to be an additional 1 million square feet.
Alexandra Olgin/SC Public Radio

    On a clear sunny day executives and government officials in black hard hats push metal shovels into loose dirt. This ceremonial groundbreaking in front of a leveled plot with construction equipment is the start of Mercedes-Benz Vans expansion in North Charleston.   

The new $500 million assembly plant will be more than double the size of the current facility and eventually employ 1,300 more people.


Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Volker Mornhinweg said North Charleston was a convenient place to expand.


Austin Woods Apartment on Garners Ferry Road
Thelisha Eaddy / SC Public Radio

The goal of the Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) is to provide affordable housing to low and moderate income people. Two programs allows CHA  to accomplish this goal: the Public Housing Program and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) commonly referred to as Section 8.

Nancy Stoudenmire, CHA Director of Human Resources, Planning & Special Projects, tells SC Public Radio, the loss of 176 units of CHA housing, during the flood, is one factor affecting the availability of affordable housing in the area.