Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Mosquitoes Are Coming. Be prepared.

By Warren Bolton

It’s that time of year when mosquitoes invade South Carolina. Considering the flooding we experienced in October as well as a mild winter and the warm weather ahead, it’s reasonable to expect an influx of these insects in the Palmetto State.

Mosquito-borne diseases

South Carolina is home to at least 61 different species of mosquito. While the itch-inducing bite from the pests is enough of a bother, they can pose a real danger in some instances:  Mosquitoes in South Carolina might carry West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis or other viruses or parasites. Although there has been heightened concern recently over the Zika virus due to an outbreak in South America, there have been no confirmed cases found in South Carolina.

DHEC works in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor mosquito populations for diseases that can be spread to humans. We also provide information to help individuals and communities take action to reduce mosquito populations in their area and prevent bites.

Local mosquito control

Local governments play a key role in protecting citizens from mosquito-borne illnesses either through local mosquito control programs or through local ordinances. DHEC is encouraging local officials to review, update or create local ordinances designed to aid in mosquito reduction or treat standing water from roadside ditches, puddles or pools, and other areas that serve as breeding sites, such as man-made containers like tires, flower pots, kiddy pools, bird baths, etc. Counties or municipalities without abatement programs aimed at controlling mosquitoes are encouraged to institute local ordinances.

Get mosquitoes out of your yard

But local governments are only part of the solution. You must mount your own defense against a mosquito invasion as well. You can begin by removing, emptying or filling any objects in your yard or home that might hold water in order to eliminate breeding sites.

It’s critical that we all join forces and do our part to combat the threat of mosquito-borne viruses and parasites. We must be vigilant about controlling the mosquito population in our own yards and communities while protecting ourselves from bites.

Eliminating mosquito breeding areas

In surveying your property for mosquito breeding spots, leave literally no stone unturned. Among other things:

  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly.
  • Empty and turn over containers that hold water, such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children’s toys, wheel barrows, old appliances, plastic sheeting or tarps used to cover objects like grills or swimming pools, etc.
  • Make sure that all permanent water containers, such as wells, septic tanks, cisterns, water tanks, and cesspools are tightly covered and insect-proof.
  • Use mosquito dunks or mosquito-eating minnows in decorative ponds
  • Change the water in bird baths and empty and clean out children’s wading pools at least once a week.
  • Clean out and change the water in your pet’s water bowl or trough every day.
  • Larger troughs for livestock should be cleaned out on a weekly basis.
  • Cover trash containers and garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
  • Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.

Preventing bites

We also must protect ourselves from mosquito bites.

  • If you must be outside, apply a mosquito repellent — either a spray or wipe — to your skin or wear protective clothing per manufacturer instructions to help shield you.
  • Avoid going outside at dusk or wearing perfume or scented products.
  • Also, keep car windows rolled up and garage doors closed at night.
  • Please also make sure that all screens on windows and doors are intact and installed properly.

Make no mistake. The mosquitoes are coming. Be prepared.

Visit DHEC’s mosquito information page for additional information about protecting yourself from mosquito bites, eliminating breeding areas, local mosquito control and more.


Dams After The Flood: Regulations, Responsibilities and Recovery

By Bryony Wardell

On March 12, 2016, more than 100 South Carolina dam owners passed up a sunshine-filled day to get together with safety and regulation experts to talk about dams after the flood. Dams After The Flood: Regulations, Responsibilities and Recovery was a community event hosted by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and its partners to help connect dam owners to information and people who can help them move towards recovery.

As the state’s regulatory agency, DHEC’s role is to provide input and assistance to dam owners and operators and to advise them on regulatory compliance. Dam owners are responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of their dams. The agency doesn’t provide engineering services, but it does provide compliance assistance.

Since the historic flooding of October 2015, many dam owners in South Carolina have been facing unique and lasting challenges. For many, the challenges have been overwhelming – for some, the first time they were even aware they owned a dam was after it was impacted.


A DHEC staff member helps attendees locate their dam on the new Watershed Atlas.

Network of Knowledge

The event was an important step towards recovery and building capacity for community resilience for future natural disasters. It introduced dam owners to information and people – including each other – who can help create a network of knowledge.


DHEC Environmental Affairs Director Myra Reece talking with dam owners.

“Response is one thing, but recovery is by far the hardest and longest phase of a disaster. Let’s figure this out together,” said DHEC Director of Environmental Affairs Myra Reece. “This is a kick-off and it’s the start of a collaborative coalition of dam owners, dam safety experts, engineers and other partners who can work together to form pathways to solutions.”

The event included presentations from DHEC’s dam program staff on regulations, safety, inspections, maintenance and damage recovery. Click here to download the presentation. It also included a Q&A session, information booths and one-on-one networking for dam owners with a variety of event partner organizations.

Event partners included
: American Rivers, Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Gills Creek Watershed Association, Natural Resources Conservation Service, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, S.C. Department of Transportation, S.C. Emergency Management Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as consultants and contractors.

Overcoming the Overwhelming

“This needed to be done. It was very helpful. It put people’s minds at ease a bit to know that DHEC is here to listen, to hear our questions, our frustrations, to talk and to work together,” said Donnie Hallman, a dam owner from Gilbert. “It gives us a way to share information and it takes the fear factor out of the situation.”

Event organizers kept the formal presentations brief to allow attendees ample time to visit information booths, ask questions about their unique situations and meet neighbors who own dams up- or downstream in their watershed. Color-coded name badges were provided to help attendees identify fellow dam owners in their watershed and start their own local networks.

registration table.jpg

“We want to make sure people have the information and time they need to make important decisions about their dams,” said John Litton, DHEC Dam Program director. “We are going to work with you on the unique problems you each are facing.”

For more information about the event, contact Shelly Wilson at or (803) 898-3138 or visit

Honoring Dr. Leon Banov

​Pictured above:  Dr. Banov’s family recently viewed the former health director’s portrait thanks to Lowcountry Region Administrator Dennis Thompson’s efforts. 

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

An important figure in DHEC’s past will have a place of honor in the Charleston County Health Department going forward.

Thanks to efforts of Lowcountry Region Administrator Dennis Thompson, a portrait of Dr. Leon Banov, who served as the Charleston County health director from 1920 to 1961, was preserved and will hang in the new Charleston County Health Department when it opens.

The Charleston County Health Department was established in May 1920 and merged with the Charleston City Health Department in 1936 under Dr. Banov’s directorship, according to the Medical University of South Carolina Documents Initiative and Collected Archives. The department ran public health programs including maternal and child health, health education, treatment clinics, environmental sanitation, food inspections, communicable and venereal disease control, and statistical record keeping.

Tree Planting at Charleston Health Dept.

Dr. Leon Banov’s family at a tree planting at Charleston Health Department in the 1950s.

During the 1950s, Dr. Banov was instrumental in getting funding for the health department built in downtown Charleston, and this facility was named after him. He also wrote two books during his time as health director. They are “As I Recall: The Story of the Charleston County Health Department” and “A Quarter of a Century of Public Health.”

A painting of Dr. Banov was embedded in the wall in the conference room at the old health department. Before the painting was destroyed, Dennis and his team made sure it was kept safe and have arranged for it to hang in the main conference room at the Chicora Life Center, the soon-to-be new health department in Charleston. At Dennis’s suggestion, this conference room will be named after Dr. Banov.

Dennis recently contacted Dr. Banov’s family members who live in Charleston and Washington, D.C. When they visited the area a few weeks ago, he arranged for them tour the new health department and see the portrait of Dr. Banov. One of Dr. Banov’s grandchildren viewed the portrait for the first time and was moved to tears.

A special thanks to Dennis Thompson for preserving an important piece of the agency’s history and going above and beyond to connect a family with its legacy.

Interested in more historical photos of the Charleston County Health Department? Check out MUSC’s archive here.

Charleston Resilience Network

By Dan Burger,  Coastal Services Division Director,  DHEC Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

On February 23, leaders from throughout the Charleston region attended a symposium hosted by the Charleston Resilience Network (CRN) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). DHEC has provided leadership to establish the CRN, a new inter-governmental and cross-sector partnership working to align programs and foster a unified strategy that results in regional resilience to water-related hazards. The symposium, Understanding the October 2015 Floods, included panels of experts, leading professionals and elected officials in a facilitated discussion that examined the Charleston region’s resilience to tidal and storm-related flooding.

NAS Resilient America Roundtable member, Brigadier General (ret.) Dr. Gerry Galloway and I welcomed the audience and promoted the need for inter-governmental and cross-sector collaboration in the development of resilience strategies. Throughout the day, an engaging dialog took place among critical service providers, emergency responders, business leaders, disaster relief organizations and elected officials.

crn event 2

Charleston City Council Member Michael Seekings provides his perspective on resilience to the audience. Also pictured: moderator Dr. Gerry Galloway (left), Charleston Public Service Director Laura Cabiness and North Charleston City Council Member Rhonda Jerome.


Participants also learned about the meteorological conditions that led to the widespread flooding from the National Weather Service, tidal flooding projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and innovative flood mapping efforts from the College of Charleston, Lowcountry Hazards Center. A findings document from the symposium will be available this spring.

CRN will continue to build on this dialog as it engages stakeholders and works to enhance accessibility to flood hazard information, including planning and vulnerability assessment tools.

For more information on the Charleston Resilience Network, please visit:


Nutrition Education to Help You Be a Better Parent

nnm_blogBy Betsy Crick, WIC Outreach Coordinator

March is National Nutrition Month and WIC is here to help you savor the flavor of eating right!  Our nutrition education program is about helping families stay healthy during times of important growth. We can give you the tools you need to grow strong, happy and healthy kids. WIC’s mission is to partner with you and your family and provide nutrition counseling, focused on your needs and concerns.

We use a style of education that encourages you to play an active role in learning and allows WIC staff to act as a guide. Participant-centered education makes the learning experience more fun, engaging and meaningful, for both participants and WIC staff.

We offer nutrition education in several ways. Initial certification to the program is one-on-one with our qualified WIC staff.

Follow-up education is offered two ways:

  • You can attend a class/sharing session. The class provides opportunities for group discussion, incorporates hands-on activities, and allows participants to share experiences and give each other support.
  • The second way is to take an online class using our web-based nutrition education system. There are 7 modules available, covering topics from having a healthy pregnancy, to feeding your baby, to kitchen safety.

Participants with serious nutrition or health problems can receive help from one of our Registered Dietitians.

Customer service is a priority with us. Our health departments offer nutrition education before or after traditional working hours, as well as on weekends. Our web-based system is available 24 hours a day, and can be accessed from your home, school, library or anywhere you have Internet access.

For more information, please visit our website or contact your local public health department/WIC office.