Olivia Aldridge

Reporter/Producer

Olivia Aldridge is a reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, and has previously reported on recovery from weather disasters in the state, including the floods of 2015 and Hurricane Matthew.

Although a Georgia native, Olivia graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. As an undergraduate, Olivia worked in print media as the editor of her college newspaper and a reporting intern for Street Sense newspaper in Washington, D.C. She also worked as an oral historian for the Textile Mill Memory Project, a Mellon Grant-funded project preserving the history of rural SC’s textile mills.

Olivia began at SC Public Radio as an intern in 2016, when she founded the ongoing program Narrative.

Ways to Connect

Harriet Mealing is planning to move into a house soon, but is waiting until she has the financial ability to furnish it with appliances.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Harriet Mealing's trailer home was severely damaged by the flood. Ceilings caved in, holes opened in the floor and mold and mildew ruined most of Harriet's belongings. She sought help from a myriad of flood recovery organizations, but received very little assistance, and she received no financial support from FEMA. Over a year later, Harriet is still living in the same situation, resigned to Clorox her home every week to keep the mold at bay. 

Tammy Moshier stands in her living room with nametags she made for the guests of her "Gratitude Party." Each one bears a description of what the wearer did to help her and her daughter during their struggle with the flood.
Courtesy of Laura Moshier

Tammy Moshier and her twelve-year-old daughter, Laura, were flooded out of their home near Gill's Creek in October 2015. Because their home was elevated six feet, they had assumed they would be safe from flooding, but they were wrong. It was a stranger that escorted the mother-daughter pair from their front porch and carried Laura through shoulder-deep water. They never knew his name.

Margaret and Harry Plexico spent months trying to clean up and salvage their flooded home before decided to start over elsewhere.
Ryan Plexico

Margaret and Harry Plexico were away celebrating their anniversary the weekend of October 4th, 2016. They couple celebrated 36 years of marriage in Charleston. When they returned to their home in Irmo, they found it ravaged by flood. With no flood insurance, the Plexicos made the difficult choice to build a new home elsewhere, using their retirement savings to do so. Both Margaret and Harry had just retired.

City of Columbia Police Officers Erskin Moody (left) and Ivan Birochak.
Jennifer Timmons/City of Columbia Police Department

Sergeant Erskine Moody and Officer Ivan Birochak of the Columbia Police Department were assigned to a twelve hour night shift on October 3 and 4, 2015. They wondered whether the forecasted rain would "live up to the hype," and soon realized that it would. From managing barricades to saving families from their homes, a normal shift quickly became one to remember. 

Maegan Latham assists with community cleanup efforts after Columbia was flooded last October. Here, she takes a wooden cross to her neighbors houses to be signed.
Courtesy Julie Latham

  Last October, the Latham family’s home was devastatingly damaged by Columbia’s massive flood. During several long months of repair, Davis and Maegan Latham struggled to keep up with the demands of high school while living in “less than ideal” circumstances, displaced from their home at an inconvenient distance. In the process, the two siblings learned lessons about resilience and carrying on in the midst of unfortunate events.

State Director of the Humane Society Kim Kelly with a member of their Animal Rescue Team and one of the dogs relocated from Charleston Animal Society before flooding began,
Courtesy of Kim Kelly

Last October, South Carolina State Director of the Human Society Kim Kelly worked with her organization on a state and national level to evacuate animal shelters likely to flood, relocating nearly 300 animals. However, at the same time, Kelly's home in Johns Island was seriously flooded, and she and her family were forced to evacuate their own home as well.

Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea both experienced two flood evacuations with their respective children, pictured here.
Elizabeth Webb

        Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea survived South Carolina's flood last October before surviving a second massive flood in West Virginia this summer. Their children, who were with them in both evacuations, have struggled with trauma from these disasters, like so many of the elementary-age children that Elizabeth and Louise teach.

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.

Marwan Marzagao and other men in his neighborhood used pontoon boats like these to navigate the water and deliver neighbors to safety.
Marwan Marzagao

  In the neighborhoods surrounding Lake Katherine, one of the most heavily flooded areas in Columbia last October, locals went from house to house on Jon boats and pontoons to rescue neighbors who were trapped in their flooded homes. Marwan Marzagao recalls working as a team with other men as they saved others from harm’s way.

Rachel Larratt stands among the wreckage in her community after the flood of October 4, 2015.
Courtesy of Rachel Larratt

In the South Beltline and Gills Creek area of Columbia, many homes were extensively damaged by last October's flood. Rachel Larratt, a survivor turned volunteer from this area, reflects on the water rising in her own home, as well as the deflated spirits of other survivors who are still struggling to recover from the disaster. 

Blair and Hal Lindsey outside their wedding reception venue on Senate street in Columbia, while the rains of the beginning stages of the flood poured around them.
Amy Jo Photography

    On Friday, October 2, 2015, Blair Minick listened heartbroken to the next day’s weather forecast. On Saturday, she was supposed to marry her fiancé, Hal Lindsey, by the Saluda River. As the rain began to fall, all of her carefully laid plans seemed doomed to fall through, but in fact the flood only proved Blair and Hal’s commitment to one another.

Jeremy and Lacie Cannon in their family’s Turbeville farmhouse.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

  A fourth generation farmer, Jeremy Cannon was always confident in what his family’s future held. But when October’s flood decimated many of his crops, the Cannons’ future was suddenly called into question. In this episode of Narrative, Jeremy and his wife Lacie reflect on the struggle for their business pull through the loss of their crops in 2015.

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