Officials from cities and towns along the Grand Strand are grappling with water and power line hazards as clean up after Hurricane Matthew continues.
No curfews remain in Horry county on Monday night, but many roads were blocked by trees or flood waters and several traffic signals were without power. Officials from Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach said their cities were working on removing trees, but in some cases had to contact Santee Cooper if fallen vegetation had become tangled in power lines.
North Myrtle Beach has seen some structural damage to homes and businesses, including a tornado and a raging fire in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Spokesman Pat Dowling said that city officials saw significant high water lines on some structures that were uninhabited, suggesting that homeowners and business owners may be dealing with flood damage once they return.
Shoreline protection was also washed away as storm surge devastated much of the area’s dunes.
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“If there’s [another] hurricane that comes in with big tidal surges, then we’ll be very exposed,” Dowling said. “We were exposed before but now we’re definitely more exposed than we were.”
In Myrtle Beach, the city’s solid waste transfer station was “completely demolished” by winds, spokesman Mark Kruea said. Solid waste pickup was running on a regular schedule Monday, and residents should not expect delays, he said.
The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk appeared to come through the storm mostly unharmed, City Manager John Pedersen said. The city’s iconic Springmaid Pier, however, had been partly washed away. Hilton Doubletree, which owns the pier, is planning to rebuild, the company said Monday.
“They’ve already started talking to contractors,” Lisa Cole, a spokeswoman for Hilton, said. Cole said the company did not yet know how much the damage had cost.
In all, Pedersen said damages to city infrastructure, 160 homes, 115 businesses and dune walkovers numbered about $7.3 million. Officials from North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach had not yet assessed the cost of damage from the storm, they told The Sun News.
In Surfside, the town’s pier had been partly swept away from the storm. Director of Public Works John Adair said another wooden pier would cost millions of dollars, but that the town would more likely build a cement one, which would be even more expensive.
“I don’t even want to guess [what the new pier would cost],” he said.
Adair also said swashes and other infrastructure in the town were in decent shape. One swash was already scheduled for repair.
Residents cleaning up after the storm should separate construction debris and storm debris into separate piles for pickup, city and town officials said. Adair said it may take a few weeks for Surfside to pick up all the debris from the storm. Dowling said North Myrtle Beach will pick up debris as long as it was not collected by an outside contractor. Hired workers have to haul trash away by themselves in North Myrtle Beach, he said.
Hurricane Matthew also sucked significant tourism revenue out of the area for Columbus Day weekend. Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said that the area was “easily exceeding $15 million in lost revenues so far,” because of storm impacts.
“After two back-to-back years of serious storm activities, we may have some consumer perceptions to overcome,” Dean said. “One thing we’ll be watching is does this have any lingering impact beyond October, which we saw last year we did [after the floods.]”
Last year, Dean said, the chamber had to focus on advertising the fact that roads were actually clear, as many people thought Myrtle Beach was inaccessible.