South Carolina Focus

SC Focus is a regular feature of South Carolina Public Radio.  As its name suggests, the segment focuses on the Palmetto State and its people.  It covers a wide variety of subjects, from South Carolina's war veterans to scientists, musicians and other topics, both serious and whimsical.  SC Focus can be heard at various times throughout the week during our news program on all South Carolina Public Radio stations.

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  Insurance agents have been in great demand since the recent floods that swept the state. Agent Courtney Young has been busy representing her clients with the insurance companies. She tells us that while most people in the Midlands don’t have flood insurance, FEMA can step in to help those without flood coverage. She reminds policyholders to make sure they have plenty of documentation with their claims – photos of the damage, receipts if they’ve already started repairs - and to keep large items for insurance adjusters to inspect, even if they’ve been removed from the house.

Labrador Retriever
Karsten Paulick/File

The recent flood took a toll on not just the human population: many pets were lost in the storm as well. Fortunately, Midlands animal adoption centers have ways to reunite many of these animals with their owners. Their representatives have some advice for pet owners to make it easier to find their pets– and keep them healthy – in the event of future severe weather events.

DOT workers fill the washed out bridge approach on Bluff Road at I-77.
Tut Underwood

  Road crews from the S.C. Dept. of Transportation are scattered across the state, repairing roads and bridges as swiftly as possible, though it will be months before all are back in service.

Gov. Nikki Haley in press conference at the SC Emergency Management Division. (File Photo)
SCETV

   Governor Nikki Haley says that, in the wake of historic flooding, the state is now moving " from a massive response situation to a massive recovery situation."

FEMA Disaster Assistance Interview
FEMA

    On this South Carolina Focus, Laura Hunsberger talks with Ryan Deal, FEMA External Affairs Officer, about how FEMA decides which counties are eligible for individual aid. The bottom line from Deal and Governor Haley: Everyone who had damage or losses from the floods should register with FEMA as a first step. Call 1-800-621-3362 or visit disasterassistance.gov to register.

  As waters from the recent flood rush from the Midlands toward the coast, the South Carolina Department of Transportation already has 200 engineers in 35 teams inspecting roads and bridges to assemble a priority list of what needs doing first, as troopers from the Department of Public Safety work to keep people safe and observing road closings.

Some smaller jobs are already being done, says DOT spokesman Pete Poore, who adds that the department has a resource little known to most – a small supply of pre-cast concrete and steel bridges to speed some bridge replacements.

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.

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As people are digging out from the effects of the state’s historic floods and keeping an eye out for what’s next, they may not be aware of the storm’s effects on another phase of South Carolina life:  its wildlife. 

  The South Carolina Department of Transportation will begin roadside debris pick-up on Monday. Residents should sort items by category.

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.

The cleanup process has  begun for many Midlands residents following the historic rain and floods that hit the state over the weekend.  Hampton Oliver and Tammy Moshier recall their rescues by good hearted strangers, the damage to their homes and what they’ve learned from an experience they hope no one will go through again.

(File Photo)
SCETV

  Shelters across the state have taken in hundreds of displaced people during the flooding, and communities have come together with donations for people who had to evacuate. To find out how to help or what items are needed most, visit SCEMD.org (http://www.scemd.org/recovery-section/donations-and-volunteers) or call 1-888-585-9643.

The corner Of Wentworth and Barre in Charleston at low tide October 7, 2015.
Courtesy of Jessica Hofford

  Russ McKinney outlines Governor Haley's press conference and the concern for flooding as coastal rivers being to rise.

  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.


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

Though the sun is out and some flood waters are receding, there is still danger from ruptured streets, bridges and dams across the Midlands and across much of South Carolina. In the Midlands, authorities including the Columbia Police Dept., Richland County Sheriff, Columbia Fire Dept., the military and even SLED are teaming to comb the area and offer assistance to those in distress.

A levee that forms part of the Columbia Canal, breached by the flooding from record rainfall in South Carolina. (Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015)
Linda O'Bryon/SC Public Radio

  The rains have subsided but flooding continues to cause damage across the state. In Columbia, flooding caused water in downtown's Columbia Canal to breech a levee and flow out into the river. The National Guard and the city are working to stop the flow of water out of this reservoir. They are building a rock dam to slow the current enough to allow helicopters to fill the 60-foot breech.

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.

  

  The latest warnings and advisories from NOAA's National Weather service are available at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/prodsByState.php?state=sc&prodtype=allwarnings.

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

In South Carolina flooding continues to disrupt daily life in many communities. Though the record rainfall of the last three days has abated, rivers continue to rise. At least 11 people have died in the state since the heavy rain began.

As Laura Hunsberger reports, concerns about dam breaches and flash flooding continue in the Midlands.

Gov. Haley: "We need to continue to be careful."

Oct 6, 2015

  Governor Nikki Haley said in a press conference today that, "God smiled on South Carolina--the sun is out." However, the Governor urged continued caution because swollen rivers, creeks, and streams are still channeling water from South Carolina's record rainfall, so there is still a possibility of some flooding and damage.

Update at 4:30 a.m. ET Tuesday: Death Toll Raised To At Least 13

Record rainfall is expected to taper off in much of South Carolina Tuesday, after severe flooding left houses in Columbia and elsewhere with water up to their eaves. But officials say the crisis is not over, and residents should stay away from dangerous roadways.

At least 11 deaths were reported in the South Carolina and two in North Carolina.

In South Carolina, some 40,000 people are without water. In addition, 70 miles of Interstate 95 are closed to traffic.

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.

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

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

The Shandon neighborhood in Columbia, SC, Monday, Oct 5.
Timothy Carrier

  Record rainfall is expected to taper off Monday, after severe flooding left houses in Columbia and elsewhere with water up to their eaves. But officials say the crisis is not over, and residents should stay away from dangerous roadways.

At least nine deaths were reported in the state, and some 40,000 people are without water. In addition, 70 miles of Interstate 95 are closed to traffic.

"If you're in your house, continue to stay in your house," Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday morning. "This is not the time to take pictures." She added that even in areas where rain has stopped, "This is not over."

Listen to the Governor's entire press conference, below.


South Carolina Hit Hard By Weekend Storm

Oct 5, 2015

After historic flooding this weekend, tens of thousands of South Carolinians are without electricity and the South Carolina National Guard is assisting in search and rescue missions.

In Columbia, the state capital, residents are being urged to boil their water and hospitals are considering evacuation because water main breaks are causing outages and low pressure. Portable toilets have been placed outside of University of South Carolina residence halls.

Effective through Monday morning, the National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Northeast Georgia, North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, including Greenville and Spartanburg. 8 to 12 inches of rain will be possible in these areas, which could result in life-threatening flash flooding. Another wave of heavy rain is expected tonight and flooding is likely along rivers and streams.

The City of Greenville is monitoring the conditions and residents can call the city’s helpline, Greenville Cares at 864-232-CARE. In an emergency, call 911.

Historic levels of rainfall are predicted for the Midlands. The city of Columbia’s Mayor Steve Benjamin says that although rain may not seem threatening, the roads may be dangerous. Columbiasc.net lists potentially dangerous intersections to avoid. A toll-free telephone line has been established for questions about the severe weather conditions in the state. Citizens with storm-related questions can call 1-866-246-0133 and the system will operate 24 hours a day while hazardous conditions persist. In an emergency, call 911.

  The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Charleston County, including downtown Charleston, until 4:00 pm.

The storm system caused by Hurricane Joaquin, combined with high tide on Saturday afternoon, will result in significant flooding. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says that even when the tide recedes, the rain will continue to create an unprecedented weather event.

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