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. 

Ways to Connect

  During the October Floods, South Carolina Public Radio reporters submitted 18 stories to NPR for broadcast nationwide. This reel contains 4 of the stories carried on NPR’s National Newscast.

  In the initial days of the October Floods, staff of South Carolina Public Radio staff worked around the clock to keep the transmitters on the air and to provide breaking news coverage with updates about the disaster. This reel contains just a few of the critical news stories provided by Anchor George Kearns during the flood and the days that followed.

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.

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.

Secretary Jeh Johnson with Governor Nikki Haley (left) and other South Carolina officials.
U.S. Coast Guard

  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is visiting South Carolina today to meet with federal, state and local officials and assess the flooding and recovery efforts. He is scheduled to travel to Columbia and Charleston, but Congressman Jim Clyburn says he hopes to show the Secretary other areas affected by the flooding.

Extended Version:

  Newscast Version:

Aerial view of the Charleston, S.C. area, Oct. 5, 2015.
U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann

  Major flooding is possible near the mouths of several coastal rivers. Gov. Haley warns that the flooding, expected in the Georgetown, Pawleys Island, and Givhans Ferry areas, could last for days. 

U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham says the state will need assistance beyond what FEMA can provide, and hopes to bring in federal highway dollars and block grants to help. U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn says that many of the road and bridge failures have occurred because past neglect of infrastructure. Russ McKinney reports.

A helicopter view of some of the October 2015 flooding in South Carolina.
SC National Guard

  Sunny skies on Tuesday let officials get a better look at the damage done by the flooding from the recent record rainfall. Gov. Nikki Haley says what she saw via helicopter was "...disturbing. And it is hard to look at the loss we are going to have." Her focus is now on recovery. And she warns all motorists not to drive past barriers erected by safety officials.


Forest Drive near Four Paws, Columbia Classical Ballet and other businesses were heavily damaged by floodwaters in South Carolina's October flood.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  In the wake of historic rainfall and flooding, South Carolina is only beginning to dig its way out while still experiencing rain and high waters. Two Columbia businesses, the Four Paws Animal Clinic and the Columbia Classical Ballet, are assessing the damage from a distance, as both buildings are largely or completely underwater.

Owners Nori Warren of Four Paws and Radenko Pavlovich of CCB share an uncertainty about what’s next, but both are determined that they will continue to offer their services, whether in their present locations or elsewhere.

Governor Haley gives a press conference at the SC Emergency Management Division.

   Gov. Nikki Haley spoke w the media today,  updating the latest numbers from the weekend storms and praising the hard work of First Responders.

Gov. Nikki Haley
Governor's Office

  Gov. Nikki Haley held a press conference this afternoon to discuss impending rain and flooding in South Carolina.  Russ McKinney reports on the Governor's comments.