SC Public Radio Flood Coverage from the Beginning
South Carolina experienced a historic storm and massive flooding throughout much of the state, with heavy rain beginning on October 3, 2015. Meteorologists have referred to this as a once-in-a- millennium event. South Carolina incurred much damage and hardship. Lives were lost and families were dislocated. Estimated damage statewide is at least one billion dollars and may go significantly higher.
As residents of the Columbia area, staff members of South Carolina Public Radio were embedded in the heart of the disaster. Radio staff members assisted with everything from engineering the broadcast of the Governor’s briefings to maintaining an active Twitter account and sharing broadcast content online through a dedicated web page. They provided breaking news and weather alerts to the public during the critical first days of the flood even though some knew people who lost their homes or even their lives during the flood. As many roads became impassable, access to the station was cut off. But through careful preparation, News Anchor George Kearns and Operations Manager John Gasque stayed at the station and worked around the clock to keep the radio network on the air for three straight days. In the days that followed, reporters faced rising water and washed out roads while travelling in the field.
This collaborative effort by a small team led to the potentially lifesaving broadcast of news, alerts, and information across the state including 37 news packages, 40 FEMA notifications, 11 statewide broadcasts of the Governor’s daily press briefings, 75 flood alerts, and 75 closing alerts. 18 radio stories were produced specifically for the NPR national newscast. South Carolina Public Radio’s staff of only 10 persons produced incredible coverage beginning with the initial days of the disaster and continued to cover the recovery efforts in the months that followed. South Carolina Public Radio continues to produce ongoing coverage of the recovery efforts across the state.