Storm-lashed South Carolina re­assesses global warm­ing’s role

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TECHNEWS! -

Cac­cu­rately pre­dict­ing nearly to a home which ones would flood dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Florence in Septem­ber. That gave res­i­dents a week or more to get what­ever they could out their homes.

Kevin Tovornik was one of them. Tovornik lost his air con­di­tioner and duct work in the 2016 flood. In 2018, he saved his fur­ni­ture, but still ended up los­ing the house. For a while, he paid two mort­gages: this one and one on a town­home he had to move into 30 miles (48 kilo­me­ters) away. To save money, he now lives in an RV in his yard in Con­way. He hasn’t been able to start re­pairs on the house be­cause too much rain has fallen over the past few months for any­thing to dry out.

Tovornik and his wife don’t want to re­build. He said he would now have to el­e­vate the house with no guar­an­tee there isn’t an­other record flood to come on the Wac­ca­maw River, which crested 3.5 feet (1 me­ter) above the level it reached dur­ing Matthew. But at the mo­ment, he can only get back 75 per­cent of the ap­praised value of the house through the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s buy­back pro­gram.

“Where else in South Carolina right now is your house los­ing that kind of value?” Tovornik said. “It’s hard to get your feet back on the ground. You have so many strikes against you. You have a mortgage on a house that is un­in­hab­it­able.”

As they con­sider how to plan for and re­act to fu­ture weather events, the gov­er­nor and fel­low po­lit­i­cally con­ser­va­tive mem­bers of the South Carolina Flood­wa­ter Com­mis­sion aren’t quite ready to ac­cept the gen­eral con­sen­sus among sci­en­tists that pol­lu­tion and other man­made fac­tors are largely to blame for cli­mate change.

The com­mis­sion’s leader, at­tor­ney and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­fes­sor Tom Mul­likin said solv­ing the prob­lem can’t be de­railed by what he de­scribed as po­lit­i­cally charged debates over the cause.

“We are go­ing to deal with the real-time im­pacts of a cli­mate that has changed through­out all of time,” Mul­likin said. “We — the gov­er­nor — is not en­ter­tain­ing a po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion.”

What­ever the causes of the ex­treme weather, me­te­o­rol­o­gists say it will strike again as it did last year, when more than 100 re­port­ing sta­tions, mostly east of the Mis­sis­sippi River, recorded more rain­fall than at any other time, ac­cord­ing to the South­east Re­gional Cli­mate Cen­ter. Weather ex­perts are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­ten­tially record rain­fall in South Carolina and North Carolina last year.

Pick­ens County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Di­rec­tor Denise Kwiatek first got a sign the weather world was chang­ing five years ago.

In the sum­mer of 2013, Kwiatek knew a heavy storm was hit­ting a sec­tion of Pick­ens County in the north­ern part of the state, but con­di­tions didn’t seem too bad in the mid­dle of the county where she was. And yet, just 15 miles (24 kilo­me­ters) away, thou­sands of plant species col­lected over decades at Clemson Univer­sity’s South Carolina Botan­i­cal Gar­dens were be­ing swept away as 8 inches (20 cen­time­ters) of rain fell in a few hours.

“More of those lit­tle events are hap­pen­ing. We are learn­ing to be more vig­i­lant,” Kwiatek said.

OLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — When he took the job 15 years ago, Horry County Emer­gency Man­ager Randy Web­ster fig­ured his big­gest dis­as­ters would be wind and surge rolling over his county’s beaches, South Carolina’s top tourist des­ti­na­tion.

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