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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.

The original entrance to the Williamsburg Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

In October, heavy rains flooded the roof of Williamsburg Regional Hospital and damaged the building beyond repair. The building may be closed but hospital staff plan to reopen, first in temporary buildings made of tractor trailers and modular units.

A glass of iced tea.
Pixabay

  On a warm day, a cold glass of sweet tea, called by some “the house wine of the South,” goes down mighty nicely.  It’s a drink that’s enjoyed all over the region, but nowhere is it appreciated more than in Summerville, which calls itself “the birthplace of sweet tea.”   According to storyteller and tea enthusiast Tim Lowry, the designation stems from an old soldiers’ reunion held in Summerville in 1890.  

 

These volleyball enthusiasts at Folly Beach are playing on 18 percent less sand than was on the beach prior to the historic floods and high tides of Oct 4, 2015.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

In October of 2015, Hurricane Joaquin tore 18% of the sand from Folly Island.  The tide pulled much of it downstream as well as deeper into the ocean, creating sand bars.  For several areas along the coast in Charleston, there's now less real estate for families to pitch their umbrella, this coming summer.  South Carolina Beach Advocates, a group devoted to the preservation of beaches in the state, has requested beach re-nourishment funds from the federal government two years earlier than it normally would due to erosion. Re-nourishment means bringing in more sand from somewhere else.

Standing water in Colleton County.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Uncharacteristically warm weather, an historic rainfall event, and persistent standing water had Calhoun and Charleston counties scrambling to keep mosquitoes under control as late as December of 2015. So how are they fairing now as mosquito larva begin to hatch in the spring of 2016?

South Carolina Flood Recovery... 123 Years Ago

Mar 28, 2016
Atlantic Wharf after the storm, Charleston, SC.
Photos taken from Craig Metts' Book "The Great Sea Hurricane & Tidal Wave"

October's historic flood has been called a thousand-year event. FEMA has estimated that a full recovery in South Carolina will likely take four to seven years.  Just a century prior, a recovery that fast would have been unimaginable.  In 1893, South Carolina experienced one of the deadliest storms in American history.  The Sea Islands Hurricane made landfall in Beaufort, South Carolina turning it from a thriving port city to a "forgotten bywater," says Larry Rowland.  He's a historian and co-author of a three-volume book titled, The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina.

Hilton Head Beach Project To Coincide With Tourism Season

Mar 25, 2016
The beach re-nourishment project is completely funded by a beach fee.
Alexandra Olgin/SC Public Radio

  Each year, millions of tourists flock to Hilton Head Island for the pristine beaches and beautiful weather. But to keep the white sand beaches healthy and slow erosion, the town replenishes the sand once a decade. Due to delays partially caused by bad weather last fall and winter the project will now coincide with the peak summer tourism season.

Hilton Head Project Director Scott Liggett spends years planning these beach renourishment projects.

The South Carolina  House passes a new state budget; the number one priority of this budget is funding for  the state's roads and bridges.  Russ McKinney has the roundup of this week in the South Carolina Legislature.

A.C. Moore students sample and analyze pond water at their school.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

  Nancy Frick is a second grade teacher at A.C. Moore Elementary School in downtown Columbia. In June 2015, Frick was enrolled in a nature-based inquiry class through the University of South Carolina and Richland One School District. Frick says she learned about the importance of watersheds, an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. Three months later, when the 1,000-year flood took place, Frick was applying and sharing what she learned in class.

Catherine and Alta Shirk volunteer as cooks for Storm Aid teams.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

Sumter County resident Cindy Rodenberg and her husband had severe damage to their home in the October floods. They didn’t know what they were going to do until they contacted Mennonite Disaster Service and Storm Aid. Cindy says she loves her home even more now, not only because it looks fresh and new but because of the people who helped her.

Despite the inroads made by technology, friendly personnel are still on hand to check out materials to the public at Richland Library.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Technologies such as e-books and the Internet are part of the rapid changes that have caused libraries to rethink their roles and adapt to an evolving society. At USC’s Thomas Cooper Library, 16 million items from the collection were downloaded last year. Over at Richland Library, a complete four-floor renovation will allow new adaptations such as sound recording and video editing spaces, new “makerspaces” to foster creativity and 30 additional meeting spaces. The directors of both libraries comment on the need for libraries to stay relevant in the 21st century, and the actions of these libraries prove that they have indeed done just that.


Food truck at West Columbia's HEMI Food Truck Court.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    The food truck is an idea whose time has apparently arrived, as more and more of them are seen on lots and at festivals bringing hot (or cold) delicacies to where people gather. A West Columbia entrepreneur has just opened a food truck court to give consumers a wider choice of menus, as well as a place where trucks can gather and know there will be a market for their wares. Meanwhile, a North Charleston fabrication business is contributing to the industry in another way – it’s constructing food trucks out of vintage 1940s and ‘50s trucks, as well as more modern delivery vans.


On this episode of State House Week, host Russ McKinney reports that the S.C. House of Representatives is considering the Senate’s action on a roads bill, and state senators debate a bill to restrict Syrian refugees relocating in the state.

A clean-up volunteer holds what appears to be the base of a stool, found among the debris on Gills Creek.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

  Buddy Wilkes of Lexington says a post on Facebook was the reason he packed his kayak and headed to the Gills Creek area in Richland County. He says, “it said that if you had a kayak to bring it. Well, that piqued my curiosity of how you can use a kayak on a highway clean-up. So I brought my kayak and came down here and this is what I see.”

Vincent Kolb-Lubo/SC Public Radio

  

  Eric McClam joined his father in 2009 to cultivate and grow City Roots, South Carolina’s first urban farm. The plan was to produce clean, healthy, sustainably-grown products while enhancing and educating the community about the benefits of locally-grown food. After historic levels of rainfall left farmers soaked, the father- son team focused more on micro greens to compensate for the loss of their more traditional staple- vegetables.

 

 

All 24 Tartleton State students pose with Miss Deborah in front of her house.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

Near the Congaree River in central Columbia, a group of college students in matching blue t-shirts spent three days repairing one woman's home. Water from the October's flood left serious damage across her property, ruining much of the home's structure as well as her own possessions. The students are from Tarleton State University in Texas. They traveled 20 hours on a bus to be here for their spring break. 

  A recent survey by WalletHub, a website that helps consumers and small businesses to make better financial decisions, found South Carolina’s tax system to be the third fairest in the nation. While it’s nice to be complimented, two tax experts say the survey may be stretching a bit, and not considering certain factors. S.C. Department of Revenue Executive Director Rick Reames says the state has the highest individual income tax in the South.

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