sc news

Flood Moves Columbia Composer to Write Jazz Tune

May 25, 2016
Mark Rapp performing at the Rio Mar Jazz Festival.
Courtesy of the artist

  Columbia-local and Jazz musician Mark Rapp saw the impacts of October's flood firsthand.  It was devastating, forcing people out of their homes and businesses captured on the news and social media.  Along with the devastation though, Rapp watched the flood bring out generosity and empathy -  seeing volunteers, charities, and rescue teams lend a hand. Cooper McKim speaks with Rapp to investigate the meaning behind Water Be Still.

Scientists Project Record Shrimp Season

May 24, 2016
Alexandra Olgin

Bird calls at the Shem Creek docks mean the shrimp boats are back.

Shrimper Phuoc Tang and his crew are hauling about 1,000 pounds of white shrimp in colorful plastic fishing baskets off his boat and onto the dock.

“We did good today,” he said. 

Tang is excited because this is projected to be his best season. According to state scientists, 2016 is expected to yield the biggest roe white shrimp crop in 37 years.  

Construction workers elevate a house on Lake Katherine in Columbia that was heavily damaged in October’s flood.(File photo)
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

October's historic flood brought massive damage to homes and businesses across South Carolina. While the storm brought economic difficulties, one sector is experiencing a boom: the construction business.  Tut Underwood talks to experts in the field about the heightened demand for contractors and how long it will last.

    Reaching displaced flood victims and getting those victims to use the Disaster Recovery Database (2-1-1) were major items of discussion during a Richland County Blue Ribbon Committee meeting.

During the May 19 meeting, 10 members of the committee discussed difficulties in reaching some flood victims. Michael King is Richland County disaster recovery chief. He said the county is reaching victims by phone and in-person visits.

A flooded field in rural South Carolina, in October, 2015.
SC Dept. of Agriculture

  This week the South Carolina House and Senate each voted to override Gov. Nikki Haley's veto of a bill to help farmers who suffered losses in the counties that were declared Disaster Areas in October's floods.

The back walk/ bridge at Swan Lake Iris Gardens during the flood of October, 2015.
Swan Lake Iris Gardens

Thousands of people will visit Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter for the 76th Annual Iris Festival. Seven months ago, Sumter’s mayor Joseph McElveen, Jr. wasn’t sure if damages from October’s flood would be fixed in time for the event. McElveen said the collaborative effort of park staff and city leaders helped accomplished what seemed to be a massive reconstruction project.

  The S.C. House of Representatives Tuesday voted to override Gov. Nikki Haley's veto of a $40 million Farm Aid Bill. The bill is to provide state assistance to South Carolina farmers who were hard hit during last fall's major flooding. South Carolina Public Radio's Russ McKinney has more on the House action.

Elliot New

  For more than 20 years, Elliott and the Untouchables have been entertaining audiences throughout South Carolina and beyond with traditional and original blues music that jumps and swings. In this report, Elliot New talks about his passion for this “real” music and how he writes his songs. He also demonstrates his homemade “diddley bow,” a primitive instrument early bluesmen made from nails, baling wire and broomsticks. Untouchables bassist J.T. Anderson also comments on what motivates his friend and fellow musician.

The Columbia Fireflies host the Greenville Drive at a recent game at the new Spirit Communications Park in Columbia.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Minor league baseball contributes to a community’s quality of life, as well as its economy. And there’s a lot to like. Whether it’s the game itself, the food, the whacky between-innings promotions, or the social aspect, everybody has a favorite thing about baseball, even the people who work every day to put the game on the field. We hear in this report from two broadcasters, a general manager and a team owner about what they think minor league baseball adds to life in South Carolina. One says the stories, one says the opportunity for service.

A view of the United Way’s 2-1-1 Call Center, which handles thousands of calls each month.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

  More than seven months after the thousand-year flood, many residents are still struggling to recover from the disaster. This spring, the state selected an organization called Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery to take on long-term disaster case management. Falon Alo, Executive Director of Hearts and Hands, says disaster case management involves helping flood-affected residents get on a path toward complete recovery.

Church Group Helps South Carolinians Rebuild

May 16, 2016
Alexandra Olgin

Faye Washington is looking forward to moving back home. Her three-bedroom red brick house with yellow trim looks the same from the outside, but the inside is completely new.

Volunteers are drilling nails into drywall and taping together new air ducts. Washington has lived at this home for 56 years.

“This house was built in 1960 and I was born in 1960,” she said.

Washington fled her Georgetown home last October when nearly 12 inches of water seeped in the doors and windows. She said it felt like her house was in a river.

Mussels Survive as Road Crossings are Repaired

May 12, 2016
Obstructed culverts on the east side of Gills Creek Road.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

Below Gills Creek Road in Lancaster County, a stream has stopped flowing. It’s become a pond, stuck behind four metal pipes blocked with branches, garbage, and debris. There's barely any water making its way through to the other side. Cooper McKim speaks with experts on how outdated culverts are impacting both humans and the stream's ecosystem.

A white former North Charleston police officer has been charged with federal civil rights violations for shooting and killing an unarmed black man last year. 

Michael Slager has been indicted with violating Walter Scott’s civil rights. He’s also charged with obstruction of justice for knowingly misleading authorities investigating the incident.

Slager was charged with unlawful use of weapon during the commission of a crime. He also faces a state murder trial scheduled for October. Last fall, North Charleston approved a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott's family.

Lindsay Langdale surveys the stripped-down lumber supporting her house after required mold remediation had been done.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

In the wake of the devastating flood of October 2015, both Richland County and the city of Columbia are seeking to help victims in the flood plains whose homes were ruined. The city and county are looking for funding to buy the homes of qualified landowners and return the property to green space, never to be developed as housing again. They’ve applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding to make the buyouts, which will be completely voluntary. Criteria must be met for homeowners, and the governments themselves must put up a 25% match.

Alexandra Olgin

Farming is all Jamie Burgess knows. He has worked this same land since kindergarten.

“I’ve been driving a tractor since I was six years old. My daddy used to get me out of school to drive a tractor.”

And 44 years later he is still driving one.

He’s already planted corn and is getting the fields, 80 miles north of Charleston, ready for the rest of the crops.

“Behind that corn, I’ve already sprayed and weeds are dying.  And it's going to be grain sorghum back there.”

  Most of us are aware, especially in this political season, of the reports about inequality in the workplace for women.  Our next guest's organization has just released a report on this subject that she says will be important for corporations who want high profitability, local governments who want to attract businesses, and community members who want to see our state’s economy strengthen.

Mike Switzer interviews Amy Brennan, executive director of the Center for Women in Charleston, SC.

Locked gate at Phase 2 of Cayce Riverwalk
Vincent Kolb-Lugo / SC Public Radio

In 2002, the City of Cayce started work on its river walk project. Through the years, the greenway has grown to eight miles, one of the largest within any municipal limits in the Midlands.  A portion of the walk, Phase 2, has been closed since the October flood. Special Projects and Grants Coordinator Tara Greenwood said getting Phase 2 re-opened to the public is the city’ top priority.

Greenwood said many residents use the walk to get from their neighborhood to the main corridor of the city.

Summer Tourism Season: Reality vs. Perception

May 5, 2016
North Myrtle Beach, SC.
David Tribble

South Carolina destinations are set for another record summer this year, following records in both 2014 and 2015. The rebound comes at a good time, as October's flood caused a $40 million decrease in revenue for the tourism industry, including losses to golf courses, restaurants, conventions, and more. Cooper McKim speaks with experts about how tourism rebounded in South Carolina after the flood.

  South Carolina has a reputation for conserving its natural resources.  And sometimes that conflicts with interests of various business sectors.  A good example recently was the combined effort by our state's coastal communities to reject offshore drilling.  Our next guest's organization says that often though, the business community and conservationists work together.  Especially when there's a tax benefit.

Mike Switzer interviews Erin Knight, Land Trust Director with Upstate Forever in Greenville, SC.

  We are all aware of the tainted water supply issues facing the residents of Flint, Michigan.  Fortunately, South Carolina is generally blessed with some of the best ground water in the country – good tasting and free from hardness-causing minerals and natural contaminants.  However, that doesn’t mean our state is exempt from concerns about lead, chemical and biological hazards in the water.  These are the kinds of problems related to infrastructure, agriculture, or industrial activities in and around populated areas…and can happen anywhere.

Backhoes and bulldozers prepare the ground for new business locations in Myrtle Beach.  The area has been named one of fastest metropolitan statistical areas in the nation, drawing both business and residents to Horry County.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    The many attractions of Myrtle Beach have led to the area’s being named by some as the second fastest growing metropolitan area in the country. Between 2000 and 2014, Horry County’s population grew from just under 200,000 to 300,000, a 50 percent growth in just 15 years.

Alexandra Olgin

Farmer Jamie Burgess has cut the cord to his home internet, landline phone and cable. After back to back seasons of bad weather and low crop prices he needs to cut costs wherever possible. 

Floods drowned nearly his entire soybean crop in Williamsburg County last October, preceded by a drought that devastated much of his summer corn. A few bad crops in a row meant no income. 

“It has put us in real bad shape,” he said. “It’s just real hard on us. Real stressful.”

  When the largest demographic group in the country, baby boomers, began moving into retirement mode at the beginning of this century, that segment of the population started receiving a lot of attention.  Several years ago, a Harris Poll identified four types of these new retirees, ranging from youthful and optimistic to worried struggler.  Our next guest has been working with these groups for many years and says the categories are indeed real.  Which one is yours?

A Town Hall meeting for City of Columbia and Richland County residents in October 2015.
City of Columbia.

  Richland County’s Andrea Bolling is South Carolina’s Floodplain Manager of the Year. The award highlights her work since the October flood as well as the efforts of Richland County and her colleagues at work in Floodplain Management across the state.

  Even if you don’t have a cold, sneezing, sniffling and coughing can be commonly heard in South Carolina because it’s a plant – and thus pollen – filled state. That means allergies. In this report, allergist Dr. David Amrol says spring, though noted for the pollen released by blooming plants, is not the only season for allergies, because some plants (such as grass) release pollen in summer, and others, like ragweed, spread their misery in the fall.

  During South Carolina’s 1,000-year flood event, City of Columbia Water Works Superintendent Clint Shealy said the water treatment center at the Columbia Canal was treating very “difficult, muddy, turbid water.”  Heavy rains caused a flushing effect, which pushed leaves and decaying vegetation into the river.

At the House in a Box warehouse, volunteers and grant-funded employees work together to serve flood-impacted families.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

  A grant from the US Department of Labor provides a chance for people to get back to work by placing long-term unemployed and dislocated workers with flood recovery agencies in the Midlands.

The Skywheel, Myrtle Beach’s newest landmark.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Since it opened in 2011, the Myrtle Beach Skywheel has become a fixture of the beach town’s skyline. Twenty stories tall, it has become a landmark by which visitors and locals alike navigate the beachfront area. In today’s story we talk with two representatives who reveal what makes the wheel – which they regard as an “observation wheel” rather than an entertainment ride like smaller ferris wheels – so special. Among its appealing features are the enclosed gondolas, air conditioned for comfort regardless of the weather. Plus, for people, and ocean, watching, the wheel has no equal.

Dale Longacre reviews with neighbor Howard Bickley the height of the water on their neighborhood entrance booth as they perched atop a planter preparing to swim out against a strong tide that swept Bickley’s car into deep water during October’s flood.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

October’s historic floods left property and homes ruined for hundreds in South Carolina. For some it was worse: several victims drowned, trapped in their cars. Howard Bickley was nearly one of them. At 6 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, he found himself trapped in a sinking car after unexpectedly encountering a wall of water from a dam break nearby. Bickley remained calm and waited for the water to rise in his car to equal the pressure from outside.

Williamsburg Temporary Emergency Room Opens

Apr 25, 2016
Rebecca Bradford

After several months, Williamsburg has a much needed temporary emergency room. The hospital, approximately 80 miles north of Charleston was forced to shut its doors nearly three months ago after water damage from the October flooding made much of the building unusable. 

The temporary ER is made up of four connected trailers, all with a different function. The two modular buildings on either side of the main hallway are where medical procedures will take place.