SC News

News from and about the Palmetto State.

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.  

SEC Rivals Bonded by Historic Floods and Mutual Aid

Aug 24, 2016
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.

A Plan for Federal Funding in Lexington County

Aug 12, 2016
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.

Bill Stangler
Bill Stangler

Since October's historic flood last year, there have been twenty sewage spills, overflows, or line breaks that released over 10,000 gallons of raw or under-treated sewage in Columbia. Those numbers were reported by the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control.  Columbia has dealt with sewage overflows for decades, as many other cities with outdated collection systems have, but October's historic flood shined a light on the continuous problem.

More Hands Needed To Rebuild Flood-Damaged Homes

Jul 26, 2016
voluteer messages on studs
Thelisha Eaddy / SC Public Radio

Currently through the Midlands Flood Recovery Group, 16 rebuild projects are happening in Richland and Lexington Counties. The breakdown of that is: three in the City of Columbia, six in Richland County, and seven in Lexington County. This adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction work being done to flood-damaged homes at little to no cost to the homeowners. Volunteers working with nonprofits are getting the work done, but organizations say more hands are needed to continue the work.

Repair crews at work on the SC 9 Bridge over the Broad River.  Work on a new bridge is scheduled to begin in 2017.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Construction crews are busy with repairs to the bridge where SC Highway 9 crosses the Broad River between Chester and Union counties at the Town of Lockhart. The crumbling condition of the 70 year old bridge puts a new spotlight on the poor condition of the state’s roads and bridges. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) will soon have funding for a new SC 9 bridge thanks to the state legislature which authorized a $4 Billion dollar, ten year roads spending plan during this year’s legislative session.

The Forest Acres Police Department was damaged in October's historic flood.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Not only were police in the Columbia suburb of Forest Acres helping the public with traffic detours and inundated autos and businesses after the historic flood of Oct. 4, 2015, they were dealing with their own flooded headquarters. In this story, we talk with Police Chief Gene Sealy and City Manager Mark Williams about the city’s hopes to move the police station, which was contaminated with sewage as part of the storm, to a new location out of the flood plain. Just some of the considerations include finding funding and land to build on.

Alexandra Olgin

Beaten Path Lane looks like a typical suburban neighborhood street. Houses with square green lawns and large oak trees line the street. But upon closer inspection one realizes the James Island development is missing curbs, sidewalks and gutters. Instead civil engineer Joshua Robinson says there are native juncus grass, cypress trees, beautyberry plants, frogs and dragonflies – all things you would find in a marsh.

Robinson designed this neighborhood a few years ago.

Roger Gilbertson
Roger Gilbertson

At the start of July, applications officially opened for the state Farm Aid program.  Farmers are now able to fill out their losses and submit them to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture for a limited reimbursement of their lost income from October's historic flood.  But, the process is confusing. Training workshops are being held around the state to help farmers better understand the process. Cooper McKim talks to farmers and experts about it.

Eight Days of Hope Press Conference
Thelisha Eaddy / SC Public Radio

VOADS (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) are conducting numerous rebuilding projects throughout South Carolina’s 24, flood-impacted, disaster-declared counties. Mississippi-based nonprofit Eight Days of Hope recently announced plans to help the Palmetto state rebuild. The organization will bring thousands of volunteers to Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties to repair over 200 homes.

Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC. The city's next planned revitalization project is another “world-class” park along the Reedy River.
James Willamor/Flickr

  A recent report in the Wall Street Journal made the case that the major beneficiary of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the expected boom in imports and exports through the port in Charleston, could actually be South Carolina’s Upstate region, and its thriving manufacturing industry.

No one will be keeping an eye on projected growth in the Upstate more than the leaders of the City of Greenville.

  As society becomes more dependent on technology, from smart phones to driverless cars, the need for security has grown, and not just for financial institutions. The University of South Carolina and Gov. Nikki Haley recently announced the formation of SC Cyber, a coalition of educators, industry and government designed to protect information and anticipate the problems posed by new uses of technology.

SC Aquarium Joins Effort To Prepare For Sea Level Rise

Jul 19, 2016
Alexandra Olgin

Standing in front of a 15,000 gallon floor to ceiling fish tank inside the South Carolina Aquarium, President and CEO Kevin Mills pulls out a tape measure. He stretches it just over his head to the six foot mark. That is how much scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict the waters could rise in the next century.

“No one or nothing will escape from the effects of sea level rise,” he said.

Mills announced Thursday the aquarium is embarking on a three year project to educate and prepare the region for the rising waters.

Matt Brodie

A Half-Marathon and 5K race took place last weekend at Harbison State Forest to re-ignite support for victims in October's historic flood.  Race2Rebuild (R2R) sponsored the race in addition to organizing a rebuilding event the previous day.  Around twenty-five R2R runners participated and many volunteered as well at the rebuilding sites in Columbia.  Cooper McKim speaks with volunteers, partners, and leaders from Race2Rebuild about why their mission and how they ended up in  South Carolina.