Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness

DHEC in the News: Charleston flooding, Tropical Storm Irma damage, removable seawalls, West Nile

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Downtown Charleston is flooding more, with or without hurricanes. Here’s why

CHARLESTON David and Claudia Cohen were busy raking debris from their yard and reflecting on Charleston’s third big flood in three years when a car whizzed down Gibbes Street near the Holy City’s historic Battery.

Driving the auto was a neighbor, who slowed just enough to yell sarcastically about Charleston’s watery troubles.

“I’m getting a couple of cyanide pills,’’ the neighbor wisecracked through the rolled-down window. …

Rising sea levels and major storms are swamping streets, neighborhoods and popular tourist attractions with a frequency and intensity that is hard for many people to ignore. The flooding is affecting millions of dollars worth of property in South Carolina’s oldest city, one of the state’s top vacation destinations.

How Tropical Storm Irma damaged South Carolina’s coastal communities

Even though the South Carolina coast was 200 miles or more from the eye of Tropical Storm Irma, the state’s beaches and barrier islands did not escape her wrath.

All of them saw some degree of damage from high winds and rising water. In some cases, beach sand was carried several blocks inland.

Most communities were still assessing their situations at the end of the week, a process that officials said could take months.

Studies at odds on removable seawalls as storm waves slam South Carolina beachfront homes

The surf from Tropical Storm Irma swamped past the pillars meant to prop up the experimental removable seawalls that advocates hoped would protect resort homes in the Wild Dunes and Harbor Island communities.

Whether the removed walls would have made a difference, however, remains in dispute as property owners, conservationists and the state wait on the courts to decide their future.

Meanwhile, the research done so far on their effectiveness is inconclusive.

Mayor Rhodes: “We have just one isolated case of West Nile. And we’re on top of it.”

Myrtle Beach, S.C. — In a Friday evening video message posted to the Myrtle Beach City Government’s Facebook page, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes told residents there is a case of West Nile Virus in Myrtle Beach.

City officials said the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed the virus Friday.

DHEC in the News: Mosquitoes after Irma, Florida nursing home tragedy, swim warnings in parts of Congaree and Saluda rivers

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Beaufort Co agencies monitor mosquito population after Irma

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — Beaufort County Mosquito Control (BCMC) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will continue to conduct surveillance for mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases following Tropical Storm Irma.

BCMC anticipates an escalating and significant increase in the biting mosquito populations throughout the Lowcountry.

Florida tragedy highlights challenge for families seeking senior care

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Medicare records show a “below-average” rating for a Florida nursing home where an air conditioning outage led to the deaths of eight elderly clients.

The deaths are linked to heat conditions that developed at the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Hollywood police have launched a criminal investigation into the home’s operations.

A city spokeswoman says fire crews had been called to the facility 127 times over a one year period.

Warnings raised against swimming in Congaree, Saluda

COLUMBIA, SC People are being warning against swimming on parts of the Congaree and lower Saluda rivers after laboratory tests found elevated bacteria counts in the water.

Five spots on the rivers between Saluda Shoals Park and the Rosewood Drive boat landing were found to have bacteria levels above the safe swimming standard, according to a coalition of environmental groups and governments that are jointly checking water quality.

DHEC in the News: Tropical Storm Irma, head lice policy, inspection of Darlington ponds, sea turtles

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Report coastal damage to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) — A South Carolina state agency is asking its state residents to contact them for storm damage.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging residents and officials to report Tropical Storm Irma damage to the agency and local building officials.

School Board approves policy changes on first reading

The Aiken County School Board approved several policy changes on first reading at its regular meeting Tuesday, including the Aiken County Public School District’s policies on head lice, staff conduct and professional development.

The policy change concerning head lice would remove the requirement that students be free of nits, or lice eggs, before returning to school.

DHEC does follow up inspection of Darlington ponds polluted with sewage

Darlington, S.C. (WPDE) — The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has conducted a follow-up site visit of two ponds on Race Track Road in Darlington where 700 gallons of sewage spilled into the pond about two weeks ago, according to DHEC Public Information Officer Adrianna Bradley.

Bradley said DHEC was investigating if septic waste from porta potties were dumped into the ponds.

General Interest

Irma erosion likely destroyed one-third of South Carolina sea turtle nests

Those sea turtles are very likely among the last to hatch this year.

That was Sept. 7. Three days later, surf from Tropical Storm Irma slammed the state’s beaches, washing away most of the remaining nests and killing the eggs.

Beware Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Power Outage

If your home experiences a power outage due to a hurricane, tornado or severe storm, be careful when using alternative power sources because they can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up and poison the people and animals inside.

CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says CO poisoning is entirely preventable and that there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your household from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. Also, learn the symptoms of CO poisoning.

How to recognize CO poisoning

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.

CO poisoning prevention tips

  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.

For more information, please visit the CDC’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning website.

DHEC in the News: Hurricane Irma, opioids, Atlantic sturgeon

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

South Carolina prepares for Hurricane Irma

As South Carolina eyes Hurricane Irma, the Aiken County Emergency Management Division also is meeting this week about the storm in the event it impacts the state.

“We’re just making sure the County is ready,” Aiken County’s Assistant Emergency Manager Fred Wilhite said Tuesday. “We’re having meetings, because right now, it’s hard to predict where it’s going to go.”

Irma prep underway in Dorchester County

With uncertainties surrounding Hurricane Irma’s predicted path, local emergency response agencies are wasting no time preparing for a possible direct strike.

 A Different Dragon: How Fentanyl Has Changed the Opioid Crisis

Between the ages of 17 and 22, Deb Smith was institutionalized 13 times. She calls the time around 2010 and 2011, when she was 18 and 19 years old, her “lowest spot.” The “darkest,” she says.

Even at such a young age, she found herself abusing alcohol and other substances, unable to get clean. She had left school and her parents’ home and was living in foreclosed properties with others who, like her, found their daily lives to be a routine of substance use. After a few months of squatting at one spot, people would kick her out, fed up with her character when she was high. She’d moved on to the next empty house and empty friends. …

For more than a year, opioids became one of the ghosts that haunted the void carved out by her substance abuse disorder.

Feds name critical area for Atlantic sturgeon that includes South Carolina

Federal regulators have designated a sweeping range of coastal rivers as critical habitat for the endangered Atlantic sturgeon — a range that includes South Carolina.

The “critical” designation means that human activity in those waters has to be conducted in a way that doesn’t permanently hurt the fish’s ability to survive.