SC News

News from and about the Palmetto State.

HHDR Prepares For Increase in Flood Recovery Cases

Jul 14, 2016
Flood victims talk with HHDR case managers
Thelisha Eaddy / SC Public Radio

At the end of June, Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery (HHDR), the nonprofit in charge of long-term, disaster case management services following October’s flood, had over 2300 open cases. The nonprofit is connecting with more flood survivors during community outreach events. Executive Director Falon Alo said as more communities learn about HHDR services, she expects the number of open cases to grow tremendously.

Much Of South Carolina Now In Drought

Jul 12, 2016
Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Nine months after October’s historic floods, parts of South Carolina are in a drought. The state Drought Response Committee designated most of the central, south and western counties in threat of a drought Friday. Four counties in the Northwestern part of the state are much drier and are considered in moderate drought. Dennis Chastain from Pickens has been on this committee for 14 years.  

“I don’t think I have ever seen a drought cycle develop and deteriorate as quickly as this has,” he said. “Pastures are not just dry, they are scorched. The grass actually looks dead.”

Rescued By Jon Boat, One Family Tries to Return to Normal

Jul 12, 2016
Julie (left) and her children, Megan (center) and Davis (right), sit down to talk about the morning they were rescued from their home.
Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio

There was a before and an after. On the evening of October 3rd, 2015, Julie Latham thought the rain would be like the hundreds she’s experienced. To be safe, the family moved to the second story of their home, and brought snacks to eat in case the power went out. By 4:30 a.m. the following morning, the backyard was inundated.

On a cloudless summer afternoon, Julie Latham and her children, Davis and Megan, are glad to be sitting in the living room. One month earlier, contractors were putting up the last of the new drywall and trim. Today, they share their story.  

Flooded home

During a recent flood-recovery update press conference, Governor Nikki Haley stated the flood created 741 million dollars in housing losses. Nine months after October’s flood, many South Carolinians have yet to move back into their homes. United Way of the Midlands Senior Director Jennifer Moore shares how nonprofits and volunteers are working to help flood victims recover.

State Troopers removing the Confederate battle flag from display on the grounds of the South Carolina State House, July 10, 2015.

  One year ago, on July 10, 2015 the confederate flag was lowered from its place of honor in front of the Statehouse in Columbia signaling the end of a contentious period of state history. Over fifty years of contention to be exact.

New Temporary Hospital To Be Built In Williamsburg

Jul 7, 2016
A model of what the temporary hospital in Kingstree, South Carolina will look like.
Courtesy of Williamsburg Regional Hospital

Williamsburg County is getting a temporary hospital. The modular building is scheduled to be completed and ready to serve patients by the end of September. The Williamsburg Regional Hospital closed its doors six months ago, after flooding damaged more than half the building.

Ever since the closure, hospital CEO Sharon Poston has been working to get a temporary hospital up and running.

“To be able to provide direly needed medical services to our community is everything for us.  The absence of full service medical attention has been extremely detrimental,” she said.

SC Film Institute Stronger after 8 Month Hiatus

Jul 7, 2016
Terry Davis and the summer interns at the SC Film Institute.
Cooper McKim

In residential Columbia, a small business is finally back on its feet after eight months in hiatus. The South Carolina Film Institute is now located in a brown home filled with lighting equipment, cameras, and painted chairs in their interview space.  October's historic flood devastated their previous office with four feet of water, destroying the property and most everything inside. Cooper McKim speaks with the co-founder, Terry Davis, about how they recovered.

Smart, Post-Flood Rebuilding Pt. 2

Jul 7, 2016
Construction is underway at Elementary School 20 in Richland County. This retention pond is one of several designed to control stormwater runoff before, during, and after construction is complete.
Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio

Last October, a school was under construction in northeast Columbia. They weren’t expecting a massive flood, but it didn’t end up destroying their hard work. And that’s thanks to new construction techniques. While in the past, a flood like this would’ve destroyed their work, nowadays, they have methods to make use of the water.

Gov. Haley Press Conference June 30

Jul 1, 2016
Gov. Haley, South Carolina Floods
Governor's Office

Governor Nikki Haley held a press conference Thursday saying she did not want to wait until the anniversary of October’s historic flood in which 19 people died and caused more than $1 billion in damage to talk about recent progress in relief efforts. 

Haley spoke about the financial losses affecting individuals, businesses, and communities, and also addressed public infrastructure needs in the wake of the flood. 

Richland Co. Public Library

Eight months ago, employees and staff at three Richland County Public Library locations were about to embark on a unique, three-month experience. Thelisha Eaddy talks with Executive Director Melanie Huggins, Community Relations Coordinator Tamara King, and Social Work Outreach Program Coordinator Lee Patterson about how the library’s role during the initial recovery phase from October’s flood influenced long term library services.

Richland County Public Library Executive Director Melanie Huggins said libraries across the country have always responded to crisis and disaster.

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

Eight months after hurricane Joaquin dumped more than 24 inches of rain on South Carolina, homeowners are still in the process of rebuilding. For homeowners in a flood plain, it means elevating their home or demolishing it. South Carolina Public Radio reached out to Ali Khan, the flood plain manager for the City of Columbia in Richland County, to help explain what new National Flood Insurance Program regulations mean for residents located within the city limits.

An aerial view taken from a Coast Guard helicopter showing the continuing effects of flooding caused by Hurricane Joaquin in areas surrounding Charleston, S.C., Oct. 5, 2015.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann

    The week after October's devastating flood, state offices were closed. "Not so much here at the Department of Insurance," says Director Ray Farmer.  He says employees came in and helped hundreds of flood victims file their insurance claims.  A few months later, the department received over 40,000 claims related to the flood - helping people across the state begin their recovery. Cooper McKim speaks with DOI Director Ray Farmer about the importance of insurance after October's storm and how to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

  Many people are fearful of a Zika virus epidemic because of the publicity the virus has received.  But South Carolina law enforcement officers are fighting a much-less-publicized epidemic – the growth of heroin addiction.  This problem, however, is largely rampant among middle class users, according to Frank Shaheen, director of the Recovering Professional Program.  

A South Carolina Dept. of Transportation crew reopens the Drawdebil Road bridge in Lexington County.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Eight months after October's flood, 94 percent of the state’s roads and bridges have been repaired.  Of the 541 originally damaged, less than 35 now remain to be fixed.  Several were just re-opened in Richland and Lexington Counties in recent weeks, though Department of Transportation Chief Engineer of Operations of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Andy Leaphart is clear that there are more counties affected: "we have closures in Clarendon, Williamsburg still, Newberry county still has some, so we're working all across the state.

The berms in the picture above stand almost 30 ft. at points, and disconnect the creek from its historic flood plain. Ordinarily, water would break the bank and go into the flood plain. In its current form, water is forced down the channel where it picks
Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio

In northeast Columbia, a stream is no longer doing what it should be. Years of development have transformed Little Jackson Creek from a meandering stream to a channelized chute disconnected from its historic flood plain. Richland County is in the process of restoring the creek and ten acres of surrounding wetlands. Once complete, the project will contribute to flood abatement and improve water quality.

Alexandra Olgin

A large metal claw clamps down on a 45 foot high 15 year old pine tree and severs it at the stump.

The man operating the large green piece of equipment, called a feller buncher is part of Donnie Lambert’s logging crew.

“I got five machines out here,” he said.

Lambert’s crew is cutting down trees on this 300 acre plot of land north of Summerville. The feller buncher moves down a dirt path surrounded by loblolly pine trees. With the scent of freshly cut pine, it smells like Christmas.  

A white-tailed stag; the white-tailed deer is the only type of deer present in South Carolina.
Henry Mulligan

In 2015, hunters killed 7,922 deer less than the year before.  The deer season fell short for several reasons -- from August to December, South Carolina saw flooding, unseasonably warm temperatures, season closings, and inaccessible roads. Cooper McKim speaks with experts to learn what made 2015's deer season so unique.

Richland County Council unanimously approved its Blue Ribbon Committee’s recommendation to proceed with full applications of 17 flood recovery and mitigation projects. The projects are eligible for funding through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

The projects range from dam armoring to culvert improvements to the buyout of homes and businesses. Only the pre-applications for these projects have been approved. Now with Council’s, permission, full applications will be filed with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) and FEMA.

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.

Smart, Post-Flood Rebuilding Should Limit Rebuilding

Jun 20, 2016
Industrial Dumpster
Thelisha Eaddy / SC Public Radio

During the Flood, Gills Creek Watershed Association (GCWA) Program Director Erich Miarka was driving around looking to see where he could help.

“I just drove in circles for three days, trying to see what had failed, what hadn’t failed, what was on the verge of failing.” Miarka said he posted information about what he saw on the Association’s Facebook page. “I was trying to get out there and see as much of the watershed as possible.”

Renters Struggle to Afford Homes after Flood

Jun 20, 2016
Jerline Green in her apartment located just outside of Columbia.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

Mold, bugs, and saved possessions are scattered around Jerline Green's new apartment.  Must permeates the air as she sits down on one of the only chairs in the room. She moved here last October, after her previous apartment was destroyed by October's devastating flood.  This was the only place that could handle her three kids and keep them at the same school -- at least, that she could afford.  Cooper McKim reports on the increasingly unaffordable state of affordable housing since the flood.

Sen. Clemente Pinckey
SC Senate

  On June 17, 2015 the state and the nation were shocked by the horrific shootings at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.  Nine people attending bible study at the church, including the church’s pastor State Sen. Clemente Pinckney of Jasper County were killed.  The death of Pinckney, a popular and respected member of the Senate, rocked the Statehouse, and set-off a chain of events that culminated three weeks later with the removal of the confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest AME church in the south. It is often referred to as "Mother Emanuel".
Spencer Means/Flickr

  The slayings of nine worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston a year ago was a wrenching experience for South Carolina and the nation.  To try to find some understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath, three Charleston writers came together to produce a book to document their thoughts and observations.

Alexandra Olgin

In the year since the attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that left nine black parishioners dead, Charlestonians have been reflecting on race relations. The Charleston Police Department is nearing the end of a yearlong project to re-evaluate its relationship with residents across the city’s diverse communities.

At circular tables in a Charleston Greek Orthodox Church, several groups of police officers and citizens are talking about problems they've had getting along over the years. Facilitators like Charlotte Anderson manage the discussions.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley on SCETV's program "Palmetto Focus."

  The murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. last June thrust two of the state’s top public officials into the forefront.  Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, and then Mayor of Charleston Joe Riley, a Democrat.  Both leaders received praise for their roles in the aftermath.

The two were co-recipients of this year’s leadership awards from Furman University’s Riley Institute.

Participants in "Black Lives Matter" march in Charleston, SC, June 20, 2015.
Jeanette Guinn

  In the days after the Emmanuel AME Church murders of 2015, Joy Vandervort Cobb, gave a memorable interview about the community’s response to the tragedy. She returns on the one-year anniversary to tell us what has changed, and what has not.

Cobb is an actress, professor, and activist who will be performing in Citizen: An American Lyric at the PURE Theatre.

  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.

Dry Hydramt
Vincent Kolb-Lugo / SC Public Radio

A dry hydrant consists of an arrangement of piping with one end inserted into a body of water and the other end extending to dry land. These hydrants are available for connection to a pumper. Dry hydrants are an integral part of rural fire fighting. In the Lower Richland area of Columbia, 12 dry hydrants were lost during the flood. Only two have been restored.

Alexandra Olgin


  At a small Baptist congregation a half hour north of Charleston, Melvin Graham Jr. is praying.

A laminated bookmark with a picture of his sister Cynthia Graham Hurd marks his bible. She was murdered on June 17, 2015 in the basement of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church along with eight others. Graham said he and his siblings plan to remember their sister through her passion.

“We came up with the idea of giving away books in June, in honor of her, because June is her birthday,” said Graham. 

Hearts Mend Hearts

Jun 13, 2016
A mandala drawn by a participant in the Hearts Mend Hearts art therapy workshops that took place at the Charleston County Library.

  Dianne Tennyson-Vincent, along with Laura De La Maza, began the art therapy organization called Hearts Mend Hearts.  Both women have a background in therapy, art and teaching.  The organization began after the killings last June at Mother Emmanuel AME Church  of nine parishioners.