South Carolina: Flood and Recovery

  Stories of people and communities going about the work of recovery from the floods of 2015.

Credit Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

In October of 2015, South Carolina received rainfall in unprecedented amounts over just a few days time. By the time the rain began to slacken, the National Weather Service reported that the event had dumped more than two feet of water on the state. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the subsequent flooding was the worst in 75 years.

SC Public Radio Flood Coverage from the Beginning

Ways to Connect

Debris outside resident Mike Parker’s home in the Gills Creek neighborhood of Columbia, SC.
Linda O'Bryon/SC Public Radio

Many in Columbia braced for what was later called the storm of the century, but in the Gills Creek neighborhood, fast action saved lives.  Like many of their neighbors in the Gills Creek area, the damage was bad enough that Mike Parker and his family won’t be able to rebuild.

Initial repair efforts at the Columbia Canal required the SC National Guard to lift giant sandbags into the breach.
SC Public Radio

When the October flood hit, two hospitals in downtown Columbia lost water pressure. The situation was critical as officials worked to restore water to the facilities.

   While some survivors of October’s floods may have received a letter from FEMA saying they are ineligible for disaster assistance, FEMA spokesman Carl Henderson urges these people not to give up. Visit your nearest Disaster Recovery Center and speak with a counselor. It may be that all the I’s were not dotted, or the T’s crossed, and you may become eligible with the proper backup paperwork and properly completed forms.

DOT workers repairing bridge approach damaged by October floods.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Progress has been surprisingly rapid on road and bridge re-openings since the October floods in South Carolina. SC Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Poore says of 541 roads and bridges that were closed statewide on Oct. 5, only 80 remain to be opened.

Poore says that the agency's efforts to put workers on the ground while the rains were still coming down helped give it a head start on recovery. "I think we were as prepared as we could be, as an agency, and I think that paid off."

In October of 2015, Columbia's Four Paws Animal Clinic was underwater when the October flood hit.  There were no pets in the clinic when the building flooded.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

When the historic floods hit the Midlands in October, many small businesses, like many homes, were inundated. Ceiling-high waters in low-lying areas would seem to ruin the businesses for good. But the owners are fighting back.

SBA Disaster Loan interview. (File Photo)
SBA

    Even if a survivor of the recent floods in South Carolina doesn’t plan to accept a loan from the Small Business Association, he or she is encouraged to apply, because the application may make them eligible for other assistance.  Homeowners, renters, small businesses and even nonprofits may benefit from loans for disaster-related damage.

Gov. Nikki Haley in press conference at the SC Emergency Management Division. (File Photo)
SCETV

    It's been almost two weeks since the first rainfall from this month's torrential storm hit the state. And, with the exception residents and businesses who suffered substantial losses, the state seems to be back on it's feet. All major highways are open, schools have re-opened, only a few hundred people remain in the seven shelters that are still open, and Columbia's water problems have been corrected.

On Wednesday, Governor Nikki Haley thanked the citizens of the state for getting through it, saying "We know that we are coming to brighter days."

Clean-up is underway but volunteers are still needed.
SC Public Radio

    A week after the storm that caused massive flooding in our state, South Carolinians are turning toward recovery and restoration. Thousands of National Guard troops are at work, and charitable organizations have donated hundreds of thousands of meals to people in need. Hundreds have been displaced by the disaster, and help is still needed across the state. 

Gov. Nikki Haley in press conference at the SC Emergency Management Division. (File Photo)
SCETV

   Governor Nikki Haley says that, in the wake of historic flooding, the state is now moving " from a massive response situation to a massive recovery situation."

Anyone working in working in enclosed spaces where mold may have taken hold should were masks as well as gloves.
SC Public Radio/File Photo

  Governor Haley says the shelters do not currently need donations or volunteers. Right now, volunteer help is needed cleaning up debris in recovering neighborhoods. DHEC Director Catherine Heigel says volunteers should wear work gloves and boots and get a tetanus shot if needed. She says that if you are not sure whether or not you have gotten one in the past ten years, it is safe to go ahead and get a booster. On Sunday, DHEC plans to open localized clinics in the Midlands to assist volunteers, and local health clinics can also provide shots. For more information, visit SCDHEC.gov.

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