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Clemson students rebuild SC Botanical Gardens

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm •  Published: July 23, 2014
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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — After a nearly unprecedented flood destroyed the site, the South Carolina Botanical Garden is almost as good as new — because of the work of more than a dozen Clemson University architecture students.

While garden staff worked to restore the thousands of plant species wiped out by the July 2013 flood, the students spent the past year designing and building trails, bridges and drainage plans for the garden on the edge of campus. They finished their work last week.

"It's cool to know that 30 or 40 years from now, I can come back here and see some of my work at my alma mater and know people are still appreciating it," said William Craig, a student from Lexington who ran the "C'' flag on the field during Clemson football games last fall.

The garden was destroyed when a rainy summer culminated with a freak storm that dumped 8 inches of rain on campus and the garden in four hours on July 13, 2013. Engineers called it a once-in-787-years flood that overwhelmed any drainage on campus. Water rushed into the pond at the garden and topped the dam, sending more than 100 million gallons of water into the low area where the garden sits.

About 30 percent of the garden's 8,000 different plant species disappeared in minutes, South Carolina Botanical Garden Manager John Bodiford said. Trails and bridges were obliterated too.

Clean up had just started about two weeks later when another freak storm dumped 6 inches of rain in hours, causing even more damage and threatening the Hunt Cabin, a log cabin built in 1825.

"We were determined to rebuild, but we had no idea what we were going to do," Bodiford said.

That's when the garden director got on the phone with an architecture professor he knew. They worked out a plan so graduate students could spend the year on projects to rebuild trails, create signs and design and build bridges and revamp the garden's drainage so runoff was more spread out and didn't funnel directly into the garden.

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