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News and Notes - Fall 2018
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First Impacts: Natural Systems Face Sea-Level Rise
VOLUME 31, NUMBER 3, FALL 2018      
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News and Notes

North Charleston Flood Expo Improves Communication

About 75 residents of neighborhoods around Filbin Creek participated in the North Charleston Flood Expo at Felix C. Davis Community Center July 10, 2018 learning how they can prepare their homes and property while also helping flood map scientists and city staffers better understand their needs and concerns.

The exposition format promoted interaction, as residents streamed through exhibits set up by university researchers, North Charleston city staff members, state and federal agencies, and private businesses. The route started with an opportunity for residents to share flooding experiences and ended with a chance to suggest possible solutions.

Some comments written on easel pads alerted city officials to trouble spots: “Runnymede pond has issues. Overflows into neighborhood.” Some offered steps that could make a difference: “Put fencing along creek to prevent trash from washing in and causing blockages.”

As they completed a survey at the end of the route, many of the residents said they gained knowledge about flood preparation and resilience, and they especially appreciated that researchers and city officials listened to their individual concerns. Several said they liked that people were talking with each other rather than at each other.

Local residents gathered information, and shared personal experiences, at the North Charleston Flood Expo. PHOTO/LEE BUNDRICK/S.C. SEA GRANT CONSORTIUM

“This is the best thing like this I’ve come to in years,” said Andy Kingston, a long-time North Charleston resident. “I learned a lot from the maps and the meteorologist. And I’m going to go home and read some of the things I picked up.”

Butch Barfield, North Charleston’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, was especially excited about the multiple avenues of communication at the expo, which was organized by the city, the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, and the Charleston Resilience Network. City officials have battled with flood concerns for years, especially since portions of the city were inundated by tropical storm-related flooding each of the past three years.

“The best part of this is neighbors coming out and talking with us,” Barfield said. “You need to embrace listening to establish trust.”

Staff members from the city police, fire, engineering, and planning departments also learned from other exhibitors, Barfield said. City departments will use the information gathered at the event to improve flood resilience in the Filbin Creek watershed.

The S.C. Department of Insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Anderson Insurance Associates offered information on flood insurance. Researchers from the College of Charleston Lowcountry Hazards Center provided detailed inundation maps. Jared Smith, founder of @chswx, detailed ways to track meteorological conditions that lead to extreme rainfall.

The original goal of the expo was to gather anecdotal flooding data from residents to help ground-truth flood mapping tools being created by Norm Levine, director of the Lowcountry Hazards Center, housed at the College of Charleston. That effort is funded by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regional coastal resilience grant obtained through the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium on behalf of the Charleston Resilience Network.

Residents looked at maps created to show flooding from Hurricane Hugo in 1989 as well as more recent instances and possible future scenarios. They noted instances and locations where the tool had fallen short or overstated the flood’s reach. That will inform tweaks of the tool to improve its accuracy.

The expo empowered North Charleston residents with valuable information and provided data to researchers and staff to enable better decision-making. “In the end, the event moved our community a bit closer to resiliency,” Barfield said.

Bell wins Educator of the Month Award

S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Marine Education Specialist Elizabeth Vernon (E.V.) Bell was selected by the Lowcountry STEM Collaborative as its June 2018 STEM Educator of the Month.

The award is given to an educator in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field in Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, or Georgetown counties. WCIV-TV in Charleston is an award co-sponsor.

E.V. Bell

Bell is the first non-classroom educator to earn the award, which honors someone who increases STEM awareness and literacy and bolsters the STEM workforce. The group surprised Bell with the award presentation on June 21, 2018, while she was directing a teacher workshop for a new program.

Bell is involved in a number of education projects, most notably the From Seeds to Shoreline (S2S) program the Consortium began in 2011 in partnership with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and Clemson University Extension. S2S teaches students about the importance of salt marshes through in-school germination and marsh-edge planting of Spartina alterniflora, or smooth cordgrass. Bell started S2S and helped it grow to include over 40 schools in the Southeast. By 2018, thousands of students had planted more than 30,000 Spartina seedlings in the region’s marshes.

This year, Bell and the Consortium have joined with Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, Grice Marine Lab, and Clemson University Extension on the BioDiscovery Project, which will introduce students to microscopic marine invertebrates that build up on discs suspended in natural waterways. She also has been integral in planning a new Palmetto Environmental Education Certification program and helps coordinate the Science Café series, which brings educators together in non-formal settings to hear from experts in STEM fields.

Hamed Majidzadeh

Majidzadeh Fills Environmental Quality Role at Consortium

Hamed Majidzadeh, Ph.D. has joined the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium staff as the coastal environmental quality specialist.

Majidzadeh’s expertise is in water quality, hydrology, and data analysis. He earned a doctorate in Biogeochemistry from Auburn University’s School of Forestry in 2016. His doctoral work dealt with effects of urbanization on soil and water quality.

During postdoctoral studies at Clemson University, his research focused on how extreme rainfall events affect watersheds with various land use and on the impacts of hurricanes and wildfires on source and drinking water quality.

In his position at S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, Majidzadeh will work closely with state natural resource managers, community groups, scientists, universities, and decision-makers to help sustain coastal environmental quality.

McClellan Earns Coastal Management Fellowship

S.C. Sea Grant Consortium nominee Kelsey McClellan has been selected for a two-year Coastal Management Fellowship by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office for Coastal Management.

Kelsey McClellan

McClellan was matched with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where she will work to establish and pilot a method for calculating the user capacity of tourist sites and provide recommendations to guide sustainable development of a growing tourism industry.

McClellan earned a B.S. degree in Environmental and Natural Resources from Clemson University and a Master’s in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston. She worked as a coastal resilience research associate for the Consortium before heading to the Northern Mariana Islands for her fellowship position.

The Coastal Management Fellowship was established in 1996 to provide on-the-job education and training opportunities for postgraduate students and project assistance for state coastal zone management programs. McClellan is the 19th nominee by the Consortium to be selected.

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Last updated: 11/7/2018 2:19:32 PM


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