Botanical Garden weathers the storm

It really is kind of a miracle that we’re
standing here looking at the Hunt Cabin and the landscape that’s around it because I
really had some doubt as to whether this would make it through this weekend. Of course, we
just went through historic flooding in South Carolina. And it’s not the first that we’ve
seen at the South Carolina Botanical Garden. Back on July 13, 2013, we have over 11 inches
of rain in a few hours and that brought 64 million gallons of water right out of the
Duck Pond up here. It rose over the banks and really flushed along and cleaned out the
newly opened Natural Heritage Garden corridor that we’re standing in right now. So since
2013, we have put a tremendous amount of effort into really trying to work with Mother Nature,
really trying to build and construct things that allow us to pass through these natural
habitats that are part of the trail while letting nature really do its thing. And if
we do get a flood, having it go over the trail, having it go through our bridges and through
the exhibits without causing major damage. And this past weekend really shows us what
happens when you do things right. Because that’s exactly what happened. We had a little
more than 9 inches of rain on two different events. Thursday we got a little over 5 inches
and we saw lots of flooding through this part of the garden. The pond came within just a
couple inches of going over the top. It actually rose up into the road, but it didn’t go
over. And the rain that we had after that through Sunday – another 4-plus inches – didn’t
take it over the dam, so we dodged a bullet there. And part of the reason it didn’t
go over the dam is because we’ve done such a good job slowing things down, moving them
to where we want them to go, infiltrating that water that’s moving off these impervious
surfaces that reach all the way up to Kite Hill and Highway 76 and taking that water
and trying to get as much of it into the groundwater as possible and directing the remaining water
where we want it to go through a series of rain gardens, bio-swales, engineered swales
and then structures that really tried to divert it around. So it worked, and that’s really
the amazing thing. The work of people like Rocky English with Sustainable Trails hear
at Clemson University making a trail that we didn’t have to fix anything on even though
water did overtake parts of this trail. Nothing was washed away. Kudos to that group. The
architecture engineering art students who worked on the incredible bridges that are
made to withstand floods when water washes through them. They are even permeable to light,
which can pass through it. We’re trying to put as little impact on nature as we possibly
can out here. All this stuff worked. And the 75-plus projects that we accomplished since
the flood in 2013, the results of that are that we still have an intact garden today
and still have people running and enjoying the trail the day after a major flood.