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Priest on Grand Strand beach before storm: ‘God bless you, be safe’

Father Edward Fitzgerald stepped into the sand in Garden City and gazed out on the rough surf.

“Some how, some way, God is going to take care of us,” he said Thursday morning.

He believes God knows all the tides and all the storms.

And Hurricane Florence, Fitzgerald said, is “part of nature.”

The priest, of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, is staying at the church rectory with a fellow priest during the storm.

He wants to be there when the storm hits, Fitzgerald said, so that he can be in Garden City to help the community in recovery.

On Thursday morning, Fitzgerald walked and chatted with beach visitors. “God bless you,” he said. “And be safe.”

His church residence, he said, can withstand up to 135 miles-per-hour winds.

It’s located less than a mile from the shoreline where Florence was expected to unleash damaging winds and dump nearly 18 inches of rain over several days.

Along the beach, there were people walking dogs, taking photos on their cellphones and watching about 35 surfers in the water.

“It’s going to be sad seeing the beach erosion right away,” said Jason Santelli, who lives near St. James High School.

He and his wife, Kristin, planned to go home and wait for Florence’s arrival.

Horry County police were driving along the Garden City beach Thursday, asking people to leave.