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Sunday
Oct072018

Hurricane Florence Costs Could Top $100 Billion

(CNN) -- The property damage done by Hurricane Florence's epic flooding and pounding wind is becoming clear -- and fixing what broke won't be cheap.

North Carolina took the brunt of the storm's fury amid days of drenching rain and, predictably, lost the most, a pair of analyses show. Lawmakers there are set to meet starting Tuesday for a special session to debate how to undertake and pay for the recovery.

Across the three states hardest hit -- North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia -- the cost to rebuild is staggering. Here's a look at the devastation's price tag:

$45 billion

The top-end estimate of property damage reflects the effects of floodwaters and strong winds on thousands of single-family homes across an enormous disaster zone, according to Moody's Analytics.

"Many of the areas that experienced flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew are enduring similar tribulations this fall, but the footprint appears to be significantly broader following Florence, stretching about 200 miles west from the North Carolina coast and spanning 150 miles from north to south, extending into South Carolina," analysts Ryan Sweet and Adam Kamins wrote, comparing Florence with the 2016 storm.

$28.5 billion

That's the maximum estimate of all flood losses across the zone, including from storm surge, rain and rising rivers, an analysis by the firm CoreLogic shows.

Again, North Carolina is thought to have suffered most, with $22 billion in losses, followed by South Carolina with $5.5 billion and about $1 billion in Virginia.

The total is about half the $66 billion, adjusted for inflation, in property lost in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina's flooding across five states, most of it in New Orleans.

$18.5 billion

As in Katrina, most homes and businesses devastated by Florence's floodwaters were not insured for damage from rising water. Those homes account for more than two-thirds of the total estimated uninsured flood loss, CoreLogic's estimate shows.

In North Carolina alone, floods could cost uninsured home and commercial property owners as much as $14.5 billion, while the figure could reach $3.5 billion in South Carolina and $500 million in Virginia.

That compares with some $40 billion in uninsured losses sustained last year when Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas Gulf Coast, then drenched the Houston area for days.

Most private insurance policies don't protect against damage from floods caused by storm surge, rain or overflowing rivers. For that, the National Flood Insurance Program, known as NFIP and run by FEMA, provides coverage; in fact, it's required for federally backed mortgages in areas judged to be at risk of flooding.

But many homes that sustain flood damage every year nationwide lie outside designated flood zones -- often because federal flood maps don't accurately reflect the risk of flooding.

"The flood zone delineations are just wrong," Chuck Watson, an analyst with the disaster research group Enki Research, told CNN as Florence churned toward shore. "But communities don't like expansion flood zone, because it makes development more expensive and difficult. So the flood zones really don't reflect the risk."

"Losses (in Florence) will no doubt be exacerbated by a lack of flood insurance," the Moody's analysts wrote, blaming "outdated flood maps that have allowed many homeowners to remain uninsured despite the risk."

Property owners also sometimes let their flood insurance lapse because they don't have a mortgage or because their lender doesn't check.

$5 billion

That's the upper end of what the NFIP is expected to have to pay out for federally insured losses to residential and commercial property, according to CoreLogic. In all, about 445,000 properties across the three states are covered by the government-backed policies.

That kind of payout could strike another blow to the NFIP, which last year got into hot water when it had to pay out $8.7 billion in claims for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the third highest total in the its history.

Those payments would have pushed the program's finances past its borrowing limits, but Congress forgave $16 billion the program owed the federal government so it could pay out the claims.

The problem still exists, and it boils down to this: NFIP premiums aren't high enough to accurately reflect risk. But Congress is loath to raise rates and tick off people who live in flood zones. So, the well of money from which to draw claims remains precariously low.

$1.5 billion

Though Florence was known primarily as a rain event, losses from wind damage could cost residential and commercial property owners more than $1 billion, CoreLogic found, noting that such damage is covered by standard homeowners' insurance policies.

Sunday
Oct072018

Study: Drowsy Driving Increases Accident Risk Significantly

SUNDAY, Oct. 7, 2018 -- Getting too little sleep at night? If so, your odds for a car crash are rising, new research suggests.

Crash risk is highest if you get fewer than four hours of shuteye a night, scientists found. That's like driving with a blood alcohol concentration roughly 1.5 times the legal limit, the researchers explained.

But even those who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are more likely to be in a crash -- and to cause it, the study found.

"Being awake isn't the same as being alert. Falling asleep isn't the only risk," said study author Brian Tefft, a senior researcher at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Experts advise adults to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. But surveys reveal that 20 percent of Americans fall short of this recommendation, usually sleeping less than seven hours, the study authors said. They noted that an estimated 7 percent of all U.S. car crashes and 16 percent of fatal collisions involve sleepy drivers.

The researchers examined data on 5,470 crashes, including driver interviews, from a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The results were published recently in the journal Sleep.

"Even if they manage to stay awake, sleep-deprived drivers are still at increased risk of making mistakes -- like failing to notice something important, or misjudging a gap in traffic -- which can have tragic consequences," Tefft said in a journal news release.

Drivers who reported sleeping less than four hours were more than 15 times likelier to be responsible for the car accident than those who got at least seven hours of sleep, the study found.

The sleep deprived were also at high risk for a single-car crash, which is more likely to result in injury or death. The researchers noted these drowsy drivers had about the same odds of crashing as a driver with a blood alcohol concentration roughly 1.5 times the legal limit.

Drivers who'd had four to six hours of sleep the night before were up to 2.9 times more likely to cause their accident than those who sacked out for seven to nine hours.

Folks who had changed their sleep or work schedule within the past week and those who had been driving three hours or more without stopping were also at higher risk for crashing, the study found.

Sunday
Oct072018

Mushrooms Could Help Save Decline in Bee Population

Newsweek

A household cure for declines in the bee population, from a mushroom retailer named Paul Stamets who realized mushrooms may hold an antiviral power for the insects, could be in wide use by next year, giving hope in a struggle to save the vital species. 

The idea came to Stamets while he was waking up one morning, he told the Tuscaloosa News Saturday, and remembered bees fighting to feed on his mushrooms.

“I could see them sipping on the droplets oozing from the mycelium,” Stamets said. In 1984, Stamets witnessed bees moving woodchips to get closer to the mushrooms' mycelium, or underside. At the time, Stamets assumed the bees were seeking sugar there. 

But recently, Stamets realized there may be a medicinal quality found in the mycelium. His theory could potentially kickstart a movement of quick cure to rehabilitate the bee population, which has been dramatically affected by a breakout of mites since 1980.

The Varroa mites can bring viruses to the bees and completely diminish individual colonies. According to Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomology professor at University of Maryland, these mites are the main cause of dying colonies.

Stamets suggested that the extinction of bees could be a last straw in the structure of society. “What rivet will we lose that we’ll have catastrophic failure? I think the rivet will be losing the bees,” he said. “More than one-third of our food supply is dependent on bees.”

Washington State University (WSU) entomology professor Steve Sheppard saw something new in Stamets’s idea and explained the data Stamets presented was alluring. He decided after years of research with odd ideas, some that involved electricity and small balls of styrofoam, there was something worth pursuing in Stamets’s theory.

Sheppard and colleagues tested two groups of bees. Both groups had previously been exposed to the Varroa mites. One group was fed sugar mixed with the mushroom additive. The second group was fed only sugar. According to WSU assistant research professor, Brandon Hopkins, the mushroom additive nearly eliminated all illness in some of the virus strains.

In response to the positive revelation, Stamets designed a 3D-printed feeder that can dispense the mushroom‘s mycelia extract. Stamets expects the product to be available in 2019 and sees the extract becoming available through a subscription service.

Over 700 bee species in America have faced decline, Time reported in 2017. Along with the 37 percent of bee species that face large loss, nine percent of bee and butterfly populations face extinction.

Friday
Oct052018

High School Football Scores

T.L. Hanna 41, Easley 0

Westside 56, J.L. Mann 7

Daniel 51, Wren 31

Crescent 28, Liberty 14

All other county high schools had bye this week.

Friday
Oct052018

Anderson Chosen Among Top Retirement Areas

Anderson has been selected a top retirement destination by "Where to Retire" magazine's November/December 2018 issue.

Anderson is profiled in a feature titled “8 Likable Low-Cost Cities” in the issue, available nationwide on Tuesday. Where to Retire Editor Annette Fuller said that these eight budget-friendly locales are attractive to retirees.

“This cross-country lineup of beauty and appeal proves that charm doesn’t have to come at a high price,” Fuller said. “Downtown Anderson boasts a seasonal farmers market, restaurants and First Friday events, while some retirees gather at Carolina Wren Park for concerts or at Lake Hartwell for boating excursions. Retirees can attend classes at Anderson University’s Lifelong Learning Institute or head 15 miles northwest to Clemson University.”

Each year, 700,000 Americans relocate to new towns to retire. Generally, relocating retirees are healthier, better educated and more affluent than those who choose to not relocate. They bring significant economic benefits to their new states and hometowns. Nationally, two dozen states and hundreds of towns seek to attract retirees as a source of economic development. Where to Retire, now in its 26th year of print, is published six times a year. 

Thursday
Oct042018

Some I-85 Ramps in County to Close for Repairs

The South Carolina Department of Transportation will close ramps several Interstate 85 exits in Anderson County over the next few days for construction.

Tonight, I-85 Exit 32 the northbound off-ramp will close between 8 p.m-5 a.m., while the I-85 Exit 27 northboudn on-ramp and off-ramp will be closed between 8 p.m.-5 a.m.

On Sunday, the I-85 northbound lane on Exit 21, on-Ramp and off-Ramp will close between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Monday's closure is scheduled to be the I-85 southbound Exit 21 on-ramp and off-ramp from 8 p.m.-5 a.m.
I-85 Southbound lane, Exit 21 On-Ramp and Off-Ramp

Call SCDOT at 864-716-2380 or Rogers Group, Inc. at 828-697-1007 for more information.

Thursday
Oct042018

GoFundMe Accounts Set Up for Officers in Florence Shooting

Serve & Connect has launched a pair of GoFundMe accounts to offer immediate support to the families of the law enforcement officers shot in the line of duty in Florence early this week. The fund will give 100 percent of the donations to the families. 

The funds are:

The Terrence Carraway Memorial Fund, found athttps://www.gofundme.com/terrencecarrawaymemorial, will go to Officer Carraway’s family.

The Wounded Florence Officers fund, accessible at https://www.gofundme.com/wounded-florence-officers-fund, will provide much needed aid towards recovery for the injured officers.

Thursday
Oct042018

Belton Standpipe Festival Set for Saturday

This weekend, the Belton Standpipe Heritage and Arts Festival brings new events, updated vendors, and entertaining activities for the whole family.  Celebrating the City of Belton and the Belton community, this festival attracts more than 10,000 visitors annually.

Saturday, from 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM, the city square in Belton will hum to the music of popular Upstate groups while an art show and market, heritage artisans, sporting events, historical tours, fire truck rides, a classic car show, great food, children's activities, over 50 quality craft vendors, and community outreach booths entertain the crowds.

The festival is the longest continously running festival in Anderson County.

This festival is sponsored in part by the Belton Area Partnership, the City of Belton Hospitality Fund, Anderson County ATAX, and Superior Engineering.  Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1752490051658928/

Thursday
Oct042018

Saturday BBQ to Benefit Meals on Wheels

Grace Episcopal Church will hold a charity BBQ Saturday, from 5-8 p.m., at the Anderson County Farmers' Market on Murray Avenue. Plates are $15, dine in or carry out.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Meals on Wheels of Anderson, which provides a hot meal each day for nearly 500 citizens in Anderson County.  For more information call 225-8011.

Thursday
Oct042018

Apple-Picking Season Arrives in South Carolina

CLEMSON – If the old saying is true and an apple a day really does keep the doctor away, it’s time to fill pantries with South Carolina apples.

But, you’d better hurry as time is running out and the end is near for the 2018 South Carolina apple harvest season.

The apple harvest season is underway in South Carolina and Clemson Extension agents are busy helping growers learn how to maximize knowledge and use technology to reinvigorate the South Carolina apple industry. Image Credit: Clemson Public Service and Agriculture

Apples are a fall favorite in South Carolina and Kerrie Roach, a Clemson Extension horticulture agent, and other Extension agents are busy helping growers learn how to maximize knowledge and use technology to reinvigorate the South Carolina apple industry. Once a booming market in South Carolina, the apple market has declined over the years.

“Harvest for South Carolina apples begins with varieties such as Ginger Gold, which can be picked as early as the last week of July,” Roach said. “The apple harvest season extends through mid- to late- October with varieties such as Arkansas Black. The Yates variety typically is picked after a good frost.”

Marvin Bryson, owner of Bryson’s U-Pick Apple Orchard, 1011 Chattooga Ridge Road in Mountain Rest, has been growing apples for 45 years. He retired a few years ago from a job at Clemson University and spends most of his time these days working with a few family and staff members in his orchard. He remembers when business at the orchard was booming.

“At one time, we were commercial,” Bryson said. “We did all of the picking, packing and shipping ourselves. But the apple industry started declining and we had to do something to survive, so we converted our orchard to a U-Pick operation.”

The decline in the apple industry began some years ago when growers couldn’t find enough laborers to work in their orchards. Bryson enjoys what he does but said he’s not sure what the future holds.

“At my age, I just don’t know when the time will come to give it up,” he said. “No one else is interested in running the orchard. I don’t know what will happen to it when I can no longer work in it.”

Doug Hollifield of Hollifield’s Apple Orchard, 161 Hollifield Lane, Long Creek, has group of local workers who have been working with him and his wife for 8 to 10 years. Hollifield sells his apples at local farmers’ markets or in his roadside stand on S.C. Highway 76.

“We do everything,” Hollifield said. “We do the picking, the packing, whatever it takes to get the apples to the market.

Mike Ables of Ables Orchard, 14161 US-76, Long Creek, said working in an apple orchard is difficult. Every apple sold in a supermarket, farmer’s market, roadside stand and so on, is picked by hand. An apple picker’s day can start at 6 a.m. when they carry their ladder into an orchard, climb up the ladder and lean into the trees grabbing apples and dropping the them in bags strapped around their waist. Once the bags are full, the picker climbs down and empties the full bag into a bin. Depending on the time of year, an apple picker’s day can last late into the night.

“This is not a job for everybody,” Ables chuckled. “It’s hard work, it’s hot work and there are some people who just aren’t cut out to do agricultural work.”

The apple harvest season in South Carolina is from August through November.

South Carolina currently has about 30 apple growers. In 2017, Clemson hired Tom Kon to help the state’s apple growers. Kon has a dual appointment with Clemson and North Carolina State University. He is located at North Carolina State University’s Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center near Asheville. Kon has a doctorate in horticulture with an emphasis in applied pomology from Pennsylvania State University. His area of expertise includes studying chemical blossom-thinning strategies in apple orchards.

“I am in the process of developing an integrated research and Extension program to address production-related issues of the southeastern apple industry,” Kon said. “I am interested in the following research areas: crop load and canopy management, pruning and tree training practices, rootstock evaluations, mechanization of orchard practices, as well as evaluation of plant growth regulators to improve fruit quality. My program will be responsive to the needs of the industry and will aim to improve orchard productivity and profitability in the Southeast.”

In the meantime, Roach and other Clemson Extension agents continue to visit the growers to share with them the latest in technology. Roach recently visited Bryson, Hollifield and Ables to show them how to use a Brix refractometer and a penetrometer.

“The Brix refractometer measures sugar content and the penetrometer measures fruit firmness,” Roach said. “Growers can use these instruments to determine when their apples are ready to be picked.”

Other materials developed by Clemson researchers include the MyIPM App. This app is a smartphone application developed by Clemson University researchers in 2012 for South Carolina peach and strawberry growers. It has expanded into a tool that serves all fruit growers along the East Coast.

“With MyIPM, growers are able to pick effective and safe fungicides for conventional and organic production of strawberries and peaches,” said Guido Schnabel, plant pathologist who worked with software designer Roy Pargas to develop the app. “The app, in a nutshell, tells you with audio, pictures and text what you need to know about a particular disease and its management. I think it is an awesome supplement to our southeastern spray guides.”

The app includes current detailed information on around a dozen diseases for each fruit, as well as tips on managing the disease and information for southeastern growers to submit pathogen samples to be analyzed for resistance profiling.

This app is available free for iOS devices and androids by going to https://apps.bugwood.org/apps/myipmseries/.

The Certified South Carolina grown program is another tool used in helping South Carolina farmers cultivate and showcase their goods. This program is a cooperative effort between farmers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and the Department of Agriculture to promote South Carolina products. South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said the program helps consumers easily identify, find and buy South Carolina products.

“When people buy local, they are taking home fresher, tastier foods and supporting local farmers,” Weathers said. “Certified South Carolina grown produce can be found in farmers’ markets, roadside stands and supermarkets. Buy South Carolina grown whenever you can and support your local economy.”

A listing of South Carolina farms participating in the Certified South Carolina Grown program can be found at www.certifiedscgrown.com.

Wednesday
Oct032018

McMaster Expected to Sign Bill Linking S.C. Taxes to Federal Code

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina lawmakers have given key approval to a bill linking the state tax code to the federal tax code and Gov. Henry McMaster has promised to sign it as soon as possible.

The tax conformity bill allows taxpayers to transfer information and deductions from their federal tax returns to their state returns since South Carolina doesn't have its own tax code.

The federal tax bill passed last year by Congress complicated a normally easy issue by eliminating personal exemptions.

The General Assembly added deductions for business and families with children so state taxes wouldn't rise.

The Senate passed the bill 37-4 on Tuesday and the House voted 117-0 on Wednesday in a special session.

McMaster said on Twitter he will sign the bill before the end of the week.

Wednesday
Oct032018

Judge Orders Release of Report on S.C. Political Corruption

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A judge has ordered the release of a State Grand Jury report on political corruption in South Carolina.

Media outlets report judge Clifton Newman gave attorneys until Friday to offer their thoughts on information that should be redacted during a Wednesday hearing.

Solicitor David Pascoe had argued in favor of the report's release, saying the grand jury finished its two-year term in June and that the main suspects in the Statehouse corruption probe have been indicted.

Pascoe has said releasing the report is the best way to fight public corruption. He says it suggests specific actions the Legislature can make.

Four Republican lawmakers have pleaded guilty, although none served prison time. An attorney for one of those lawmakers, Rep. Rick Quinn Jr., had sought more time to review the report.

Wednesday
Oct032018

S.C. Voters Get Extra 10 Days to Register before Election

Anderson Observer Reports

South Carolina residents are getting an extra 10 days to register to vote in November due to the impact of Hurricane Florence.

With the November elections less thansix weeks away, there's still time to register to vote in South Carolina. State law requires a citizen must first register to vote at least 30 days prior to the election, which means registration is open until Oct. 17.

Eligible voters must:

  • Be a United States citizen -be at least eighteen years old on or before the next electio
  • Be a resident of South Carolina, this county and precinct
  • Not be under a court order declaring you mentally incompetent
  • Not be confined in any public prison resulting from a conviction of a crime
  • Have never been convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws OR if previously convicted, have served the entire sentence, including probation or parole, or have received a pardon for the conviction. 

There is no length of residency requirement in South Carolina in order to register to vote.

Registered voters can check their registration information at scvotes.org When checking your voter registration information, you must provide your name, county and date of birth as it appears on your voter registration card in order to view your information.