October 13, 2015

South Carolina to provide mental health services for flood victims

South Carolina is assessing the impact of last week’s floods, sending out engineering teams to examine damaged roads and bridges, as well as disaster relief crews to help with cleanup.

But another group getting less attention will several teams whose assignments will be to check on the mental health of flooded communities.

Governor Nikki Haley said the devastation of the floods could have a profound effect on people who lost everything. “We do have ‘go’ teams for mental health that are going to be out in the communities that are going to start helping people who need assistance,” Haley told reporters during her daily briefing on Monday.

She said the teams will go to those who are in need of services so they do not have travel any distance. “Our focus is to make sure that you don’t have to go anywhere. We come to you,” Haley said.

The governor said the flooding disrupted so many lives. “Las week was traumatic for so many people and a lot of damage took place, a lot people lost personal items and emotional issues came into play,” Haley said.

She said, not only did many lose everything they owned, some also lost their small business or their jobs. “You’re are going to see us send in groups of all types of people. It will be anywhere from Employment Workforce to insurance to FEMA to mental health to anything so those communities know who they need ask,” Haley said.




Greenville-based bus manufacturer moving HQ to California

Officials with several transit agencies recently took a ride in Proterra's newest model earlier this summer (File)

Officials with several transit agencies recently took a ride in Proterra’s newest model earlier this summer (File)

Electric bus manufacturer Proterra has announced that it’s moving its headquarters from the Upstate to the Silicon Valley in California.

In a news release, the company said it will continue to manufacture the zero-emission buses in Greenville but hopes the move to California will bring its leadership closer to the region’s “innovation culture” and larger demand for costlier electric vehicles among West Coast transit agencies.

“The U.S. is in the midst of a complete reinvention of how we transport people and cargo and Silicon Valley is at the center of innovation in new powertrains and energy storage systems,” Proterra CEO Ryan Popple said in a statement. “As younger generations forgo car ownership and cities demand clean and quiet transit solutions, our goal is to help pioneer this movement.”

Proterra also plans to open a new assembly line in Southern California next year. The company said the California plant will allow it to double production capacity. It said more than 123 units have been ordered, roughly equivalent to the number of buses it has delivered in its brief history so far.

The company originally started up in Colorado back in 2004 before moving to the Upstate and establishing a new manufacturing plant five years ago. At the time, company leaders cited the close proximity to Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (ICAR).

Haley: Unknown price tag for now on flood damage

A roadway is washed out in Clarendon County (Image: SCEMD)

A Clarendon County roadway is washed out in this photograph taken last week (Image: SCEMD)

Gov. Nikki Haley says it will likely be at least two weeks until state leaders have a rough idea of the damage estimates from this month’s storms and flooding.

“The next two weeks are going to be heavy assessment mode,” the governor told reporters in Monday’s daily briefing at the state emergency operations center. “We’re going to be talking with the counties about debris removal and what we can do to help them with the engineering work on their state roads and bridges. We’ll know (cost estimates) within the next two weeks.”

The governor did say that more than 37,000 people had been approved for $13 million in FEMA aid as of Monday morning. Some initial estimates last week cited by Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham were that the damage would be greater than $1 billion statewide. State Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers has estimated crop damage alone to be more than $300 million.

Haley distanced herself from those figures, saying she will wait until her agencies and FEMA have a better handle on the actual totals.

[Read more…]

I-95 reopens to southbound traffic, northbound still closed for 16 miles

Contractors measure concrete that was added to bridge pilings under the Tearcoat Bridge on I-95 near Sardinia (Image: SCDOT)

Contractors measure concrete that was added to bridge pilings under the Tearcoat Bridge on I-95 near Sardinia (Image: SCDOT)

South Carolina transportation officials reopened a section of Interstate 95 just north of Manning on Monday, meaning that through traffic is now able to drive the entire southbound section of the interstate for the first time since record flooding hit the state on October 4.

However, the South Carolina Department of Transportation said it likely would not reopen the northbound lanes until Tuesday.

As the flooding became more severe, SCDOT initially closed I-95 to all traffic between Florence and the junction with Interstate 26 near Bowman. Most of that mileage was reopened to local traffic after a few days, but a 16-mile stretch between Manning and Sardinia remained closed to all vehicles. Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said engineers had identified 33 “areas of concern” along that stretch of highway.

Hall said contractors worked “daylight and dark” to get the interstate reopened and that freeing up I-95 had been her department’s top priority in the storm’s aftermath.

The interstate remains closed for at least another day to northbound traffic due to water damage that occurred in the Black River and Pocotaligo River areas. Through traffic is being encouraged to take a 60-mile detour along Interstate 26 westbound to I-77 and then east along I-20 to Florence. SCDOT leaders do not traffic backing up along the flood-damage backroads of Clarendon County.

In all, more than 320 roads and bridges across South Carolina remain closed due to storm damage. That number has been slowly, but steadily, declining from a high of 550 at one point last week.

South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs warns of scammers

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) warns that when natural disasters bring destruction, con artists follow closely behind. Scammers prey on individuals who are emotionally vulnerable and overwhelmed.

Juliana Harris of the Department of Consumer Affairs told South Carolina Radio Network that consumers need to do their homework before hiring a contractor. “We just want to make sure that consumers due diligence of researching,” Harris said.

She said beware of contractors who just show up at the door. They’ll offer you a great deal because they’re “in the neighborhood” and have materials left over from a previous job. Reputable contractors don’t work that way.

Get all promises in writing. If it isn’t written down, it doesn’t count. Verbal promises are worthless because if there’s a dispute, you have nothing to back up your claim. “To ensure that’s it’s a legitimate contractor and you’re not just going to get duped out of that money.” said Harris.

Do not be pressured into buying. Good businesses don’t need to rush you into a decision. The high-pressure buy now approach is designed to keep you from comparison shopping. Don’t fall for it and get at least two bids for the work.

Never pay in full up front. Make sure the contract has a payment schedule. Don’t let payments get ahead of the work.