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The empty end of the Columbia Canal, which lost part of Columbia’s water supply when its levee breached as a result of the October 2015 floods in the Midlands.   At the far end, the temporary rock dam that holds water in the rest of the canal can be
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Following a serious breach in its levee caused by October’s flood, the water contained in the Columbia Canal emptied into the Congaree River. Thanks to diligent work by city engineers and help from the South Carolina National Guard, a temporary dam was built above the breach which has allowed most of the canal to fill with water. And, the city’s water supply has operated normally since late October, with no dip in water quality even immediately after the flood.

Scientists Study How Low Salt Levels Can Change The Marsh

Apr 15, 2016
The study of the persistent low salinity levels in the North Inlet Estuary is part of a series of research the University of South Carolina has funded to examine how nature and human communities were impacted by the October 2015 flood.
Alexandra Olgin/SC Public Radio

  Marshes along the South Carolina coast have been less salty following an influx of rain water late last year. Low levels of salinity for a sustained period of time can change the homes and breeding grounds for fish and other animals. 

Scientists at the University of South Carolina are studying how this temporary environmental change may affect the ecology of the marsh. Research Specialist Paul Kenny slips a small metal measuring device into the water.

An House in a Box employee and a volunteer load a couch into a family’s moving truck.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

  When the October floods hit, thousands were displaced across the state. Almost 7 months later, hundreds of people are still waiting for the chance to go home again. The House in a Box Program offers help to those who are just now moving home.

Local Artists Interpret the Flood

Apr 13, 2016
Screenshot from "WATER ME," an interactive video game submitted to Indie Grits by creators Cecil Decker, Chris Johnson, Danny Oakes, James Owens, and Michelle Skipper.
Courtesy of the artists

  This weekend an entire festival is dedicated to creative interpretations of October's historic flood by local artists. It's called Indie Grits, which typically celebrates southern culture in general, but organizers realized there hasn't yet been an artistic response to the flood. Six months after the disaster, fifteen local artists are coming together to tell stories of healing and resiliency through film, video games, music, and more.

Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson questions attorneys Wednesday at the Charleston County courthouse before he approved a delay in Dylann Roof’s murder trial.
Brad Nettles/Post & Courier / Courtesy of the Post & Courier, Charleston, SC

    A South Carolina judge has delayed the state death-penalty trial of a man accused of killed nine black parishioners at the Charleston Emanuel AME church last June.

The murder trial of Dylann Roof originally scheduled for July, is now slated to start January 17th. Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson granted the defense six more months to complete a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant, but ordered a monthly report on its progress

Attorney for several of the victims’ families, Andy Savage said most understand the reason for the delay.

A worker spray paints a shelf as one of many repairs to the home of Rob and Lisa Echols of Columbia. Their home was flooded when the Semmes dam at Fort Jackson failed during the record-setting rains of early October, 2015.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

On the night of the flood, Rob Echols remembers hearing rushing water outside his house. At 5:20 am, he went downstairs and saw two feet of water in his dining room with more quickly rushing in.  He gathered his five children and two dogs, preparing to find higher ground, until he saw the car floating down the driveway.  "So, by that point, we knew we needed to get out of here. And the walls started shakin' and the floors started poppin," he says.

Rita Shipman, Director of Operations for the South Beltline-Gills Creek Community Relief Foundation, greets visitors to the warehouse each day.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

  The South Beltline-Gills Creek Community Relief Foundation started as an initiative of neighbors helping neighbors. Now they have expanded to serve flood-impacted residents across the Midlands.

Disaster Recovery, Three Years Apart

Apr 8, 2016
The levee breach at the Columbia Canal on Oct. 5, 2015.
Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago / U.S. Air National Guard

  Contractor fraud, meager insurance pay-outs, loan trouble. These are all factors that made recovery difficult for another state that went through a similar disaster. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy wiped out the coast of New Jersey, ranking as the second costliest storm in American history. Cooper McKim speaks with the Executive Director of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group, Sue Marticek, about lessons she's learned from years of dealing with disaster recovery.

Cary Lake Dam in Columbia was one of 16 in the county to breach or fail during last year’s historic rain event and flood.  Researchers at the College of Charleston say growth and development may have contributed to some of those failures.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

  Before last year’s historic rain event and flood, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) contacted associate professor Norm Levine at the College of Charleston to help create flood maps and subsequently organize and identify dams across the state.

SC VOADs can muck, gut, and dry-out an owner-occupied home for about $1,000.
Vincent Kolb-Lubo/SC Public Radio

    South Carolina volunteer organizations active in disaster (VOAD)  have been concerned from the beginning with the dangers and extent of mold.

South Carolina Public Radio’s Vince Kolb-Lugo spoke with two SC VOADs about what they are doing to help low-income homeowners get back into their homes.

More on this story.

These bees have filled some of the beeswax cells with honey.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Beekeepers are proliferating in South Carolina. While for a few it’s a living, for most people it’s a hobby, with home-grown honey as a benefit. Kieth Henry of Ridgeway in Fairfield County is one of thousands of hobbyists in the state.

The Life Pod.
Vincent Kolb-Lubo/SC Public Radio

Engineer Mike Weeks fused two geodesic domes together with the idea of creating a recreational shelter for outdoorsmen. His idea soon evolved into Life Pod, a small shelter containing a bed, toilet, shower, and mini kitchen that can be moved on a jet-ski trailer. When the inventor hooked up to brainstorm with Tom Ledbetter, an associate vice president at Midlands Technical College, the two became excited at the possibilities the Life Pod may offer: shelter for the homeless, victims of natural disasters, minimal housing for fast-moving Millenials, and more.

Maps from www.dnr.sc.gov show drought statuses for South Carolina in July of 2015 (28 counties were upgraded to moderate state of drought) and October 5, 2015 (hundreds of acres of farmland sit in waters left by heavy rains and flood).
SC Department of Natural Resources

  Carolina Agri-Power, LLC is a tractor and farm equipment dealer in Orangeburg, SC. General Sales Manager Jimmy Gleason says he noticed a decline in sales the summer of 2015. The state was in a drought and farmers were losing their crops.  Gleason would continue to see sales drop throughout the fall and winter, after the state’s historic 1,000-year flood.

Ashby and Urbie West, father and son, have been farming together for seven years.
Alexandra Olgin/SC Public Radio

  The West family has been growing fruits and vegetables in Beaufort for more than 100 years. Fifth generation Urbie West says the farm has been through many changes, and tough years, but last fall may have been the hardest.

West and other farmers are just starting to get back in the field for the spring season after a tough fall and winter. The October 2015 floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to the state’s agriculture industry. But as the land has started to dry out and the sun has come out farmers are starting to get back to planting again.

  In this week’s edition of State House Week, Russ McKinney takes a look at how some of the state’s small, rural counties are struggling financially. The House and Senate were on an Easter furlough this week.

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