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Flood UPDATE: City to stand down emergency ops center; road closures cut in half

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Staff Report
Published Oct. 16, 2015

Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson said that the city plans to stand down its emergency operations center at 4 p.m. today. “That does not mean the work has ended,” Wilson said. “Quite frankly the work is just beginning.” City staffers now are heavily involved in the FEMA recovery and reimbursement process.” The city has submitted its Request for Public Assistance for recovery efforts, which will cover temporary needs and will be applying for permanent assistance money to fix some of the things that broke as the result of the floods.

Wilson added that regular trash collection services, including pick up of recyclables and yard trash, will resume Monday. Officials also will be posting daily incident reports on the city’s website.

road closed 10-16
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the South Carolina National Guard work on repairing Botanical Parkway, in West Columbia. (Photo/U.S. Air National Guard Airman Megan Floyd)

Road work: The S.C. Department of Transportation reported today that 251 roads and bridges remain closed, including 97 in Richland County and 14 in Lexington County. Since Oct. 5, DOT has trimmed the number of closures on the state maintained system by 54%.

The agency also announced today that the following roads in Richland County have opened or repair work started in the past 24 hours:

• US 21, North Main Street at the railroad trestle

• S-40-1899, Nina Lee Road

• US 321 at Lorick Road

• US 76/378 (Garners Ferry Road) at Gills Creek

• S-40-612 (W. Shady Grove Road)

• S-40-33 (Trenholm Road), began work

• S-40-424 (Rabon Road), began work

• SC 760 (Jackson Boulevard), began work

In Lexington County, the following roads have opened:

• S-32-172, Wise Ferry Road

• S-32-242, Pine Grove Road

Beware of flood-damaged vehicles for sale: As thousands of vehicles were damaged by the recent floods, consumers need to watch out for some of those making their way to the sales market. The National Insurance Crime Bureau is working with law enforcement agencies, insurance and car rental companies to identify and catalog water-damaged cars and trucks.

Consumers can check whether a vehicle has been declared as salvage or a total loss by an NICB member participating in VINCheckSM. Insurers representing about 88% of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program, and car shoppers can access the free VINCheck service at

Rock out and donate to Harvest Hope: Donation collection points for Harvest Hope Food Bank will be set up tonight at the main entrance of Colonial Life Arena where Def Leppard is scheduled to perform. United Way of the Midlands also will be on site to collect cash donations and provide information on how fans can donate or volunteer to aid those in need.

Fans attending the concert who want to donate food and supplies to Harvest Hope Food Bank are asked to bring the following: canned good items with easy open tops (can be opened without can opener), peanut butter and jelly, toiletries, cleaning supplies, baby items including diapers, wipes and formula, plastic bags, beans, dry goods, detergent.

More floodplain repair permit open houses: The City of Columbia and Richland County will hold two Floodplain Permit Repair Open Houses on Monday to answer questions about permitting for flood repair and rebuilding. The sessions will be from 5-6:30 p.m. at Woodland Park, 6500 Olde Knight Parkway, and 7-8:30 p.m. at M.L. Smith Community Center, 5213 Farrow Road (across the street from the Greater St. Luke Baptist Church).

The open houses are designed to answer homeowner and contractor questions about the permitting application process in a one-on-one setting.  Spanish interpreters will be available. No permits will be issued at these meetings. City permits can only be issued at Washington Square, 1136 Washington St.

Scammers targeting home, business owners: As home and business owners seek repairs for property damaged by flooding, several agencies urge caution to help avoid being scammed by FEMA impersonators or illegitimate businesses, according to Richland County officials.  Here are some key links:
Click here for information from the Richland County Building Inspections Department about making careful decisions when it comes to repairs.
Click here for information from FEMA about those who pose as federal officials.
Click here for information from the IRS about a consumer alert regarding scammers taking advantage of South Carolina flood victims.

Water distribution sites closing: Richland County will begin decommissioning some of its water distribution sites this weekend. Sites that will cease operations at 6:30 p.m. today are at 3700 Landmark Drive and Columbia Place Mall. On Saturday, distribution points will be closed at 6:30 p.m. at Crane Creek Community Center and Forest Heights Elementary School.

Water distribution sites will remain open until further notice at Lower Richland High School, 2615 Lower Richland Blvd., and Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, 760 Campground Road.

Tetanus shots: DHEC is providing no-cost Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccinations from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrews Park, 902 Beatty Road.

Heroes helping the community: Richland County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is teaming up with Buffalo Wild Wings, 4500 Devine St., to help raise funds for local flood victims. Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10% of proceeds from today, Monday and Wednesday to the American Red Cross flood relief efforts in the community. EMS representatives will be at the restaurant to meet and thank patrons for helping with the fundraiser.

Well water testing: Residents with wells should take precautions to ensure their water is safe to drink, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC offers instructions for disinfecting wells and well water testing supplies and results at some of its locations. For more information, click here or visit

Lower Richland donation drive: County Councilman Kelvin Washington, District 10, has organized a donation drive for the Lower Richland community. Donors can drop off items from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Saturday, at the warehouse located at 1601 Shop Road. Items needed are non-perishable food items, furniture, baby diapers and wipes and bottled water. (At this time, clothes and shoes are not needed.)

FEMA offices: FEMA mobile offices are at two Richland Library locations to assist residents affected by the flood with registering for disaster assistance, from 8 a.m.-7 p.m., daily:

· Richland Library Southeast, 7421 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia.

· Richland Library Eastover, 608 Main St., Eastover.

Beware of mold: County building officials urge residents whose homes were affected by the floods to make sure items such as Sheetrock, duct work, insulation or other parts of the home that got wet are thoroughly dried – or replaced. Moisture caught behind walls and under floors can lead to mold growth, which can affect a person’s health.

County Utilities Water safe to drink: Customers served by the Richland County Utilities Department Water System did not experience any interruption in water service or loss of water quality during the recent flood event. Dedicated in February 2012, the system serves about 500 homes and businesses in the Lower Richland community.

Flood debris removal: County officials said flood-related debris will be collected curbside. (This debris is separate from regular household garbage and recyclables that go in the green and lime green roll carts.) To help with debris collection, County officials urge residents to properly separate the items into piles – household, construction, vegetation, household hazardous waste, “white” goods with refrigerator/freezer doors secured with duct tape and electronics.

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