November 28, 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.




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.

3PM Update: Three new counties added to disaster declaration

Aerial view of flooding around Georgetown County (Image: SCEMD)

Aerial view of flooding around Georgetown County (Image: SCEMD)

Three more South Carolina counties have been added to the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declaration, bringing the total to 19 counties overall.

The decision to add Bamberg, Colleton and Greenwood counties to the declaration makes any residents in those counties who suffered property loss eligible for Individual Assistance from FEMA. In addition to low-interest loans and grants, residents who lost their homes or don’t have insurance can the federal help to pay for temporary housing. Public agencies and local governments in those areas can also seek federal assistance in response to the storm.

Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Darlington, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Williamsburg counties were previously designated for Individual Assistance.

Survivors who sustained losses in the designated counties can apply for assistance by registering online at or by calling 800-621-3362. Disaster assistance applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing should call 800-462-7585 (TTY); those who use Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Click here for more information on the specific assistance available for flood victims.

Columbia officials are now ordering residents to no longer irrigate their yards until the ongoing water problems are solved.

The city has been under a boil water advisory all week after floods knocked out much of its infrastructure on Sunday. Columbia’s primary water source the Columbia Canal also breached, impacting the city’s intake pumps. Utility officials say they have opened new pumps further up the canal and along the neighboring Congaree River in addition to another intake and treatment plant along Lake Murray west of the city.

Assistant City Manager for operations Missy Gentry said they are also relying on potable water from Cayce and West Columbia. Residents using the city system in the Chapin region are

But, until the boil water advisory is over, Gentry said officials only want residents to use water when necessary for cleaning, cooking, and drinking after boiling. “(Thursday) it was a request. Today (Friday), it’s going to be mandatory,” she told reporters. “We recognize some people may not be aware their irrigation systems are on, so we remind you to check that.”

Columbia utilities manager Joey Jaco said there are no plans to add additional water sources. now that Cayce and West Columbia are offering a steady supply.

Residents along one Lowcountry river will see its potential for flooding ease up Friday afternoon. State-owned power utility Santee Cooper said it had reduced the amount of water it was discharging from Lake Marion on Friday as floodwaters from the Midlands finally started dropping to safe levels.

That was good news for residents near Jamestown and northern Berkeley County, who had been warned by Gov. Nikki Haley and state emergency officials to expect flooding if Santee Cooper picked up the rate it was discharging water. The utility had been spilling 75,000 cubit feet/second at its height. That was reduced to 30,000 cfs on Friday.

Meanwhile, the potential for evacuations continue along the Black and Waccamaw River north of Georgetown, as well as along the Edisto River south of Givhans Ferry and east of Cottageville.

“If they come and knock on your door, don’t make them knock a second time,” Haley said in her daily briefing on Friday.



Haley warns officials worried about ‘major flooding’ in three areas along coast

An 88-year-old woman is evacuated by a Coast Guard aircrew in Andrews, on Wednesday. Emergency officials are warning similar rescues may be needed near Georgetown and Jamestown if residents do not evacuate when told. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann)

An 88-year-old woman is evacuated by a Coast Guard aircrew in Andrews, on Wednesday. Emergency officials are warning similar rescues may be needed near Georgetown and Jamestown if residents do not evacuate when told. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann)

Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that South Carolina emergency officials are worried about major flooding in three particular areas near the coast as floodwaters travel downstream this weekend.

During a briefing with reporters in Summerville on Thursday afternoon, Haley warned evacuations will likely be needed along the rivers in Georgetown County, along with sections of the Santee River north of Charleston and the Edisto River to the city’s west.

Haley urged residents who live in those floodplains to get ready to evacuate now even before National Guard troops or local responders warn them to leave. “We are erring on the side of caution because of everything our guys told us,” she said. “I hope they’re wrong. But they haven’t been wrong, yet.”

Haley warned the Georgetown area, in particular, could see the worst flooding as the area’s flat terrain means floodwaters could stick around for up to 12 days.

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Residents along rivers in Georgetown, Charleston counties being urged to evacuate

A flooded Santee Cooper substation near Andrews (Image: Rod Stalvey/WGTN)

A flooded Santee Cooper substation near Andrews (Image: Rod Stalvey/WGTN)

Evacuations are being encouraged in parts of Charleston and Georgetown counties for those who live along creeks or rivers that could see record floodwaters migrating downstream from the Midlands.

Residents west of Charleston who live in the floodplains along the Edisto River near Jacksonboro and Adams Run, as well as those northeast of the Holy City who live along the Santee River in Germantown and South Santee, are being told to evacuate before anticipated flooding Friday morning.

Residents in the remote Berkeley County community of Jamestown were preparing for flooding on Thursday. Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler said a Red Cross shelter will be opened on Friday for residents in the Jamestown area and those living along the creeks off of the Santee River, as the Santee River near Jamestown is expected to hit Major Flood Stage above 22 feet overnight Friday.

In Georgetown County,  Emergency Management Director Sam Hodge said officials are mostly concerned with the Black River, Pee Dee River, and Mingo Creek areas. “The key thing to remember is this is not a tsunami-type event,” he said in a message to residents. “There’s not a 40-foot wall of water that’s going to come through. This is a slow-rising river. So, if you live in those areas and you feel at all threatened by the flood, we ask that you evacuate.”

Residents in the Oatlands and Dunbar communities north of Georgetown itself are being urged to evacuate. However, Hodge said those evacuations do not extend to the cities of Georgetown and Pawleys Island at this time, despite some rumors to the contrary.

Gov. Nikki Haley gave a more urgent message to residents in Georgetown County, telling them to prepare for an evacuation now in case one is ordered at some point. “I know that this is your property and this is your home, but this is your life,” she said in a press conference Thursday. “And we want you to be very conscious of the fact that we are trying to save it.”

Haley warned floods could remain in the Georgetown area for “up to 12 days.”

On Wednesday, flooding along the Black River damaged homes north of Andrews. Residents in the area have already been hit by several floods in the past week, first from the outer edges of Hurricane Joaquin, then again as receding floodwaters from further upstate made their way downstream.

Rod Stalvey of Georgetown affiliate WGTN reports a Santee Cooper power substation near Andrews sustained flood damage Thursday. Stalvey also reported floodwaters had caused some grave vaults in at least one Georgetown cemetery to rise from the ground. “It looks like three or four are popping up out of the ground,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.