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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.

What had been Lindsay Langdale's Columbia home October 3, 2015 was a flooded ruin the next day.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Nearly six months after the catastrophic floods of Oct. 4, 2015, Columbia residents whose homes were ruined are still coping with the aftermath. Lindsay Langdale of the Glenhaven Manor neighborhood revisits the tri-level house that was devastated by the flood, and to which she will not return. Next door, neighbor Mark Rowland also has no plans to come back to the two adjacent houses he owns. But while Rowland has found a new home, Langdale has not, after looking at scores of houses.

Started in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard Project offers low-cost home rebuilding services for people impacted by a natural disaster. That’s good news for a Richland County resident Vernon Kelly and his family.

After nearly a year of debate, the South Carolina Senate has passed a roads funding bill, and a new abortion law is about to take effect.  Russ McKinney has these headlines in this edition of State House Week.

Third Round of Grants Applications Open for One SC Fund

Mar 9, 2016

This week, the One SC Fund opened their third round of applications for flood recovery projects assisting counties that were declared disaster areas by FEMA after the October floods. Grants are available to organizations across the country that want to help South Carolina communities recover.

Mosquito Season Post-Flooding in Richland County

Mar 9, 2016

The 2015 mosquito season should have been over by October, but the historic flooding caused a late season boom in the mosquito population.  Now entering the spring of 2016, standing water from the flood and recent rains are impacting the mosquito population in Richland County yet again.

In the spring of 1936, when it was first published, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind was an instant success. Mitchell's book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and in 1939 the film adaptation won eight Academy Awards.

Now Pat Conroy, best-selling author of The Prince Of Tides, has written the introduction to a 75th anniversary commemorative reprinting of the epic American story. He tells NPR's Mary Louise Kelly that he's had a lifelong connection with the book.

Pat Conroy has always sought refuge in books. As a child growing up in a military family, Conroy learned from his mother that books could be his constant companions as the family shuttled from Marine base to Marine base.

"What I remember about her, from the very earliest time of my life, is her reading to me," Conroy tells NPR's Scott Simon. "She had a great tone, a warm style, a terrific Southern accent. She read us lots of poetry ... I can still hear her voice."

Novelist Pat Conroy, who announced last month that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, has died, according to a statement from his publisher. Conroy was 70.

He announced his diagnosis on Facebook almost three weeks ago, saying "I intend to fight it hard."

Today's statement from Todd Doughty, executive director of publicity at Doubleday included comments from Conroy's wife and his longtime editor:

On this edition of State House Week, Russ McKinney looks at a breakthrough for a roads funding bill in the SC Senate and passage of a new gun rights bill in the House.

The Gills Creek area in Columbia received over 20 inches of rain during the historic October 2015 flood. As residents continue the cleanup and re-building process, many are also battling another item of concern.

Richland County Council has many important decisions to make about Flood Recovery in the coming months. Laura Hunsberger talks with Richland County Recovery Chief about the Blue Ribbon Committee, which was formed to work with the County and to help represent the community.

Temporary location of Forest Lake Fabrics, near Columbia, SC, two doors down from the original location, which is under repair.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Many small businesses were heavily damaged by the catastrophic flood that hit Columbia in October 2015.  Working through a mass of forms from insurance companies, FEMA, the Small Business Administration and others, some are beginning to dig their way out toward recovery.

  Forest Lake Fabrics is one of these.  Founded 52 years ago in the old Forest Lake Shopping Center by the grandfather of present owner Michael Marsha, it has been in its current location on Forest Drive for more than two decades.

Harper Lee being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, November 5, 2007.
White House photo by Eric Draper via Wikimedia Commons

  With today's news of the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Harper Lee, at age 89, we offer two encore episodes of Walter Edgar's Journal, each dealing with her book To Kill a Mockingbird.

State and County Office Closings and Delayed Openings

Feb 16, 2016
South Carolina Emergency Management Division logo
SCEMD

  Opening of state government offices in Spartanburg County today will be delayed by two hours.

State government offices and their employees will follow the same weather hazard decisions made by the county government officials where the state office is located. For example, if county officials delay the opening or close of county government offices, that means state offices in that county will follow the same schedule.

Complete listings here.

  The National Weather Service in Columbia has issued the following Freezing Rain and Winter Weather Advisories for Sunday and Monday (see all current advisories, with details, here):

Freezing Rain Advisory

Darlington; Dillon; Marlboro,Cherokee; Greater Greenville; Greater Oconee; Greater Pickens; Spartanburg; York, Anderson, Chesterfield; Lancaster, 

Winter Weather Advisory: Greenville Mountains; Oconee Mountains; Pickens Mountains

 

The latest list of advisories is available here.

Robert Smalls
Mathew Brady via Wikimedia Commons

  This edition of South Carolina Focus looks at Robert Smalls, who, despite his name, was a large figure in black history in South Carolina. Born a slave in Beaufort, Smalls became a hero during the Civil War (to the Union) when he stole a Confederate ship and steamed his family and those of other slaves to freedom. Two historians tell us that after the war he returned to South Carolina where he was elected to the state legislature, and later to the United States Senate. Throughout his legislative career, Smalls had a hand in laws that improved education, advanced women’s rights and secured Parris Island as a military base, which it remains today.


Some houses in Gadsden were damaged beyond repair and are being demolished.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

[Updated 03-17-16]

Problems still linger for residents in many of the areas hit hard by October’s “thousand year flood” in South Carolina. Richland County, located in the Midlands of the state, has held a series of community input meetings in locations such as Gadsden, Eastover and the capital city of Columbia, to gather information on what needs still exist.

FEMA Disaster Assistance Interview
FEMA

  The United Way maintains a one-stop phone number, 211, to help flood survivors who still have unmet needs to connect with a list of local volunteer organizations. As FEMA disaster recovery centers have closed, the local groups remain to permanently help people with relief from any emergency.

  The three remaining disaster recovery centers in South Carolina will close Friday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m.:

  • Richland County Library Southeast, 7421 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia
  • Williamsburg Recreation Center, 2084 Thurgood Marshall Highway, Kingstree
  • Central Carolina Technical College, 853 Broad St., Sumter

Many services available at disaster recovery centers are also available by calling the FEMA helpline. 

  Paleontologist Dave Cicimurri digs up fossils 34.5 million years old, not in some wilderness spot, but almost in downtown Aiken. The ancient sharks, rays, barracudas and more tell him not only that the area was once the bottom of the ocean, but the very sediment they’re buried in contains information about the environment of past eras. This information, in turn, may point to where the environment is headed in the far-flung future.


Marjory Wentworth
Andrew Allen/marjorywentworth.net

  Not every state has a poet laureate, but Charleston’s Marjory Wentworth is South Carolina’s. She’s written numerous books and hundreds of poems, at various times humorous, romantic and serious. She serves not only as an advocate for the arts in the Palmetto State, but can occasionally speak for the state’s soul, as when she was called upon for a poem to mark the occasion of the slayings of the Emmanuel Nine. Her poem “Holy City” was not only featured on the front page of the Charleston Post and Courier, but the BBC recorded her reciting it, for inclusion in its covering of the story. That was a solemn occasion, but Wentworth also discusses the joy of writing, and why she can’t live without it.


The Georgetown County disaster recovery center in Georgetown County, Beck Recreation Center, 2030 West Church St., Georgetown, will close Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m.

Many services available at disaster recovery centers are also available by calling the FEMA helpline. Survivors of Oct. 1-23 storms and flooding in Georgetown County can get help by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585; those who use 711/VRS can call 800-621-3362. Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Survivors can use the helpline to:

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