Bus delays possible as District 5 schools reopen Monday

Schools in Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five will reopen on Monday, Oct. 12 and will operate on the regular schedule.

While road conditions are improved within the district, a number of existing road and bridge closures may require school buses to take detoured routes. Parents are advised that this could result in delays on some bus routes where additional mileage and congestion may impact route lengths and times.

Parents are also advised that if they live on an unpaved road where wet conditions will not support school bus traffic, the bus will pick up and drop off students at the end of the unpaved road where the bus can safely operate.

The inventory of road and bridge closures changes on a daily basis as repairs are completed and new problems are identified. The Orangeburg County Office of Emergency Services is advising everyone to continue to exercise caution while driving and to obey road closure signs.

SCDOT provides flood debris collection information

In anticipation of a major effort to collect debris resulting from the rain and flooding in the state, the South Carolina Department of Transportation wants to make the public aware of the guidelines for the collection of debris.

Categories of debris that will be collected by SCDOT are as follows:

Vegetative debris -- Tree branches, leaves, logs and plants. DO NOT BAG this material.

Construction/demolition material -- Carpet, drywall, furniture, lumber, mattresses, plumbing materials, shingles and tiles.

Appliances -- Air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, stoves, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.

Electronics -- Computers, televisions, stereos, radios and other devices with an electrical cord.

Household hazardous waste -- Cleaning supplies, lawn chemicals, oils, oil-based paints and stains, pesticides.

If you have or will receive insurance proceeds for the removal or disposal of flood-generated debris, do not place on right-of-way for collection by SCDOT.

SCDOT will not collect normal household trash and bagged debris of any kind. Property owners should continue to follow normal garbage removal schedules.

The debris should be separated into the categories listed above. Property owners should not stack or lean debris on or near trees, fire hydrants, mail boxes or other structures. Debris should be placed at the edge of the property line at the curb. Any debris placed between a sidewalk toward the property will not be collected by SCDOT. A schedule will be released when the details have been determined.

IRS warns of flooding scams

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service on Friday issued a consumer alert about possible fake charity scams emerging due to severe flooding this month in South Carolina and neighboring states.

"When making donations to assist flood victims in South Carolina and elsewhere, taxpayers should take steps to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said “IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations.”

Following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers.

Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.

The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

• To help disaster victims, donate to recognized charities.

• Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find legitimate, qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at fema.gov.

• Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.

• Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.

• If you plan to make a contribution for which you would like to claim a deduction, see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, to read about the kinds of organizations that can receive deductible contributions.

Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.

Additionally, scammers often send email that steers the recipient to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.

Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds by email should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”

DHEC expands private well water testing hours

COLUMBIA -- The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Friday that it will be expanding its private well water testing office hours in several counties. Standard operating hours will continue for all other office locations.

Those who have a private well that was flooded during the recent flooding event can have their private well tested for fecal coliform bacteria by DHEC to be sure their water is safe to drink. Sample bottles may be picked up at a DHEC Health or Environmental location from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To extend access to testing, several DHEC Environmental Quality Control offices will be open on weekends from 8:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 10 to Nov. 1 for sample drop-off. You may also pick up a sample bottle during that time. These offices are in Florence, Charleston, Aiken, Myrtle Beach, Orangeburg, Sumter and Greenwood counties.

Other locations where bottles are available and samples can be dropped off in the Charleston County area include, McClellanville Town Hall and Ridgeville Town Hall. Locations in the Columbia area include Eastover Town Hall and Gadsden Community Center.

In addition, the DHEC lab will be providing sample bottles and accepting samples during the same extended operating hour period. The DHEC lab is located at 8231 Parklane Road, Columbia, SC 29223.

DHEC advises residents with wells in counties affected by floodwaters to disinfect their well and have the well water tested before using it if it does not taste, smell or look like it did before the event. If your well was flooded, you can assume it's contaminated.

People with questions about wells can contact the nearest DHEC Regional Environmental Quality Control office or the Division of Water Quality at 803-898-3376.

Contact the writer: lharter@timesanddemocrat.com and 803-533-5520.



Lee Harter has been editor of The Times and Democrat since 1981

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