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  In this week’s edition of State House Week, Russ McKinney takes a look at how some of the state’s small, rural counties are struggling financially. The House and Senate were on an Easter furlough this week.

The original entrance to the Williamsburg Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

In October, heavy rains flooded the roof of Williamsburg Regional Hospital and damaged the building beyond repair. The building may be closed but hospital staff plan to reopen, first in temporary buildings made of tractor trailers and modular units.

A glass of iced tea.
Pixabay

  On a warm day, a cold glass of sweet tea, called by some “the house wine of the South,” goes down mighty nicely.  It’s a drink that’s enjoyed all over the region, but nowhere is it appreciated more than in Summerville, which calls itself “the birthplace of sweet tea.”   According to storyteller and tea enthusiast Tim Lowry, the designation stems from an old soldiers’ reunion held in Summerville in 1890.  

 

These volleyball enthusiasts at Folly Beach are playing on 18 percent less sand than was on the beach prior to the historic floods and high tides of Oct 4, 2015.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

In October of 2015, Hurricane Joaquin tore 18% of the sand from Folly Island.  The tide pulled much of it downstream as well as deeper into the ocean, creating sand bars.  For several areas along the coast in Charleston, there's now less real estate for families to pitch their umbrella, this coming summer.  South Carolina Beach Advocates, a group devoted to the preservation of beaches in the state, has requested beach re-nourishment funds from the federal government two years earlier than it normally would due to erosion. Re-nourishment means bringing in more sand from somewhere else.

Standing water in Colleton County.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Uncharacteristically warm weather, an historic rainfall event, and persistent standing water had Calhoun and Charleston counties scrambling to keep mosquitoes under control as late as December of 2015. So how are they fairing now as mosquito larva begin to hatch in the spring of 2016?

South Carolina Flood Recovery... 123 Years Ago

Mar 28, 2016
Atlantic Wharf after the storm, Charleston, SC.
Photos taken from Craig Metts' Book "The Great Sea Hurricane & Tidal Wave"

October's historic flood has been called a thousand-year event. FEMA has estimated that a full recovery in South Carolina will likely take four to seven years.  Just a century prior, a recovery that fast would have been unimaginable.  In 1893, South Carolina experienced one of the deadliest storms in American history.  The Sea Islands Hurricane made landfall in Beaufort, South Carolina turning it from a thriving port city to a "forgotten bywater," says Larry Rowland.  He's a historian and co-author of a three-volume book titled, The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina.

Hilton Head Beach Project To Coincide With Tourism Season

Mar 25, 2016
The beach re-nourishment project is completely funded by a beach fee.
Alexandra Olgin/SC Public Radio

  Each year, millions of tourists flock to Hilton Head Island for the pristine beaches and beautiful weather. But to keep the white sand beaches healthy and slow erosion, the town replenishes the sand once a decade. Due to delays partially caused by bad weather last fall and winter the project will now coincide with the peak summer tourism season.

Hilton Head Project Director Scott Liggett spends years planning these beach renourishment projects.

The South Carolina  House passes a new state budget; the number one priority of this budget is funding for  the state's roads and bridges.  Russ McKinney has the roundup of this week in the South Carolina Legislature.

A.C. Moore students sample and analyze pond water at their school.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

  Nancy Frick is a second grade teacher at A.C. Moore Elementary School in downtown Columbia. In June 2015, Frick was enrolled in a nature-based inquiry class through the University of South Carolina and Richland One School District. Frick says she learned about the importance of watersheds, an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. Three months later, when the 1,000-year flood took place, Frick was applying and sharing what she learned in class.

Catherine and Alta Shirk volunteer as cooks for Storm Aid teams.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

Sumter County resident Cindy Rodenberg and her husband had severe damage to their home in the October floods. They didn’t know what they were going to do until they contacted Mennonite Disaster Service and Storm Aid. Cindy says she loves her home even more now, not only because it looks fresh and new but because of the people who helped her.

Despite the inroads made by technology, friendly personnel are still on hand to check out materials to the public at Richland Library.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Technologies such as e-books and the Internet are part of the rapid changes that have caused libraries to rethink their roles and adapt to an evolving society. At USC’s Thomas Cooper Library, 16 million items from the collection were downloaded last year. Over at Richland Library, a complete four-floor renovation will allow new adaptations such as sound recording and video editing spaces, new “makerspaces” to foster creativity and 30 additional meeting spaces. The directors of both libraries comment on the need for libraries to stay relevant in the 21st century, and the actions of these libraries prove that they have indeed done just that.


Food truck at West Columbia's HEMI Food Truck Court.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    The food truck is an idea whose time has apparently arrived, as more and more of them are seen on lots and at festivals bringing hot (or cold) delicacies to where people gather. A West Columbia entrepreneur has just opened a food truck court to give consumers a wider choice of menus, as well as a place where trucks can gather and know there will be a market for their wares. Meanwhile, a North Charleston fabrication business is contributing to the industry in another way – it’s constructing food trucks out of vintage 1940s and ‘50s trucks, as well as more modern delivery vans.


On this episode of State House Week, host Russ McKinney reports that the S.C. House of Representatives is considering the Senate’s action on a roads bill, and state senators debate a bill to restrict Syrian refugees relocating in the state.

A clean-up volunteer holds what appears to be the base of a stool, found among the debris on Gills Creek.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

  Buddy Wilkes of Lexington says a post on Facebook was the reason he packed his kayak and headed to the Gills Creek area in Richland County. He says, “it said that if you had a kayak to bring it. Well, that piqued my curiosity of how you can use a kayak on a highway clean-up. So I brought my kayak and came down here and this is what I see.”

Vincent Kolb-Lubo/SC Public Radio

  

  Eric McClam joined his father in 2009 to cultivate and grow City Roots, South Carolina’s first urban farm. The plan was to produce clean, healthy, sustainably-grown products while enhancing and educating the community about the benefits of locally-grown food. After historic levels of rainfall left farmers soaked, the father- son team focused more on micro greens to compensate for the loss of their more traditional staple- vegetables.

 

 

All 24 Tartleton State students pose with Miss Deborah in front of her house.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

Near the Congaree River in central Columbia, a group of college students in matching blue t-shirts spent three days repairing one woman's home. Water from the October's flood left serious damage across her property, ruining much of the home's structure as well as her own possessions. The students are from Tarleton State University in Texas. They traveled 20 hours on a bus to be here for their spring break. 

  A recent survey by WalletHub, a website that helps consumers and small businesses to make better financial decisions, found South Carolina’s tax system to be the third fairest in the nation. While it’s nice to be complimented, two tax experts say the survey may be stretching a bit, and not considering certain factors. S.C. Department of Revenue Executive Director Rick Reames says the state has the highest individual income tax in the South.

What had been Lindsay Langdale's Columbia home October 3, 2015 was a flooded ruin the next day.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Nearly six months after the catastrophic floods of Oct. 4, 2015, Columbia residents whose homes were ruined are still coping with the aftermath. Lindsay Langdale of the Glenhaven Manor neighborhood revisits the tri-level house that was devastated by the flood, and to which she will not return. Next door, neighbor Mark Rowland also has no plans to come back to the two adjacent houses he owns. But while Rowland has found a new home, Langdale has not, after looking at scores of houses.

Started in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard Project offers low-cost home rebuilding services for people impacted by a natural disaster. That’s good news for a Richland County resident Vernon Kelly and his family.

After nearly a year of debate, the South Carolina Senate has passed a roads funding bill, and a new abortion law is about to take effect.  Russ McKinney has these headlines in this edition of State House Week.

This week, the One SC Fund opened their third round of applications for flood recovery projects assisting counties that were declared disaster areas by FEMA after the October floods. Grants are available to organizations across the country that want to help South Carolina communities recover.

Mosquito Season Post-Flooding in Richland County

Mar 9, 2016

The 2015 mosquito season should have been over by October, but the historic flooding caused a late season boom in the mosquito population.  Now entering the spring of 2016, standing water from the flood and recent rains are impacting the mosquito population in Richland County yet again.

In the spring of 1936, when it was first published, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind was an instant success. Mitchell's book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and in 1939 the film adaptation won eight Academy Awards.

Now Pat Conroy, best-selling author of The Prince Of Tides, has written the introduction to a 75th anniversary commemorative reprinting of the epic American story. He tells NPR's Mary Louise Kelly that he's had a lifelong connection with the book.

Pat Conroy has always sought refuge in books. As a child growing up in a military family, Conroy learned from his mother that books could be his constant companions as the family shuttled from Marine base to Marine base.

"What I remember about her, from the very earliest time of my life, is her reading to me," Conroy tells NPR's Scott Simon. "She had a great tone, a warm style, a terrific Southern accent. She read us lots of poetry ... I can still hear her voice."

Novelist Pat Conroy, who announced last month that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, has died, according to a statement from his publisher. Conroy was 70.

He announced his diagnosis on Facebook almost three weeks ago, saying "I intend to fight it hard."

Today's statement from Todd Doughty, executive director of publicity at Doubleday included comments from Conroy's wife and his longtime editor:

On this edition of State House Week, Russ McKinney looks at a breakthrough for a roads funding bill in the SC Senate and passage of a new gun rights bill in the House.

The Gills Creek area in Columbia received over 20 inches of rain during the historic October 2015 flood. As residents continue the cleanup and re-building process, many are also battling another item of concern.

Richland County Council has many important decisions to make about Flood Recovery in the coming months. Laura Hunsberger talks with Richland County Recovery Chief about the Blue Ribbon Committee, which was formed to work with the County and to help represent the community.

Temporary location of Forest Lake Fabrics, near Columbia, SC, two doors down from the original location, which is under repair.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Many small businesses were heavily damaged by the catastrophic flood that hit Columbia in October 2015.  Working through a mass of forms from insurance companies, FEMA, the Small Business Administration and others, some are beginning to dig their way out toward recovery.

  Forest Lake Fabrics is one of these.  Founded 52 years ago in the old Forest Lake Shopping Center by the grandfather of present owner Michael Marsha, it has been in its current location on Forest Drive for more than two decades.

Harper Lee being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, November 5, 2007.
White House photo by Eric Draper via Wikimedia Commons

  With today's news of the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Harper Lee, at age 89, we offer two encore episodes of Walter Edgar's Journal, each dealing with her book To Kill a Mockingbird.

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