A look back at the biggest storms to hit the Grand Strand and the damage they caused

With the potential threat of Hurricane Florence hitting South Carolina as early as Friday, stories of previous storms are circulating around the Grand Strand.

Irma already is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, according to the National Hurricane Center, and even though there is uncertainty with its track, it could bring “catastrophic” damage to the Carolinas if it were to hit our area.

Here’s a look at how other hurricanes have impacted the Grand Strand throughout the years.

Hurricane Matthew: October 2016

Hurricane Matthew ripped into Horry County as a Category 1 storm, washing the area in flood waters, bending and breaking trees, signs and utility poles.

The Myrtle Beach area lost a major portion of the Springmaid and Surfside piers. The Apache and Second Avenue piers also were damaged.

Power lines and phone lines were down throughout the area, leaving nearly 200,000 without power in Horry and Georgetown counties.

The Sun News at the time reported part of Conway received 10.64 inches of rainfall while other areas got 12.18 inches. Myrtle Beach had rainfall totals ranging from 4.90 inches to 12.19 inches in some places. North Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand Airport recorded 7.93 inches.

Hurricane Matthew caused about $17.3 million in damages for the county, according to Horry County.

Around 355,000 people evacuated across the state.

Hurricane Charley: August 2004

Hurricane Charley passed through southwestern Florida as a Category 4 storm, but weakened to a Category 1 as it reached the Carolinas. The center of Charley made landfall just north of Myrtle Beach with winds of up to 75 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

About 180,000 people evacuated the Grand Strand after former Gov. Mark Sanford ordered evacuations for coastal areas, and hotels lost more than $30 million in revenue, The Sun News reported in 2004.

A mandatory evacuation was issued east of Highway 17 Business in Georgetown and Horry counties while a voluntary evacuation was issued for the entire S.C. coast.

There wasn’t extensive damage, but the hurricane killed as many as 8,000 sea turtles nesting on beaches, The State reported.

Hurricane Floyd: September 1999

According to a 1999 report from The Sun News, Hurricane Floyd slammed into Horry County, dumping as much as 24 inches of rain and left many Conway residents searching for higher ground. Conway neighborhoods were completely under water.

When Floyd entered the Carolinas, it was a Category 2 storm with winds reaching 105 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

At the time, Floyd prompted the largest evacuation of the East Coast and more than 400,000 South Carolina residents filled up state roads as they tried to flee.

The Horry County Assessors Office reported in 1999 that 80 businesses and homes suffered major damage and 734 minor damage. More than 1,000 homes and businesses were impacted in some way, the county estimated at the time.

Hurricane Hugo: September 1989

Hurricane Hugo is one of the most costly environmental disasters in South Carolina’s history and was the most severe hurricane to strike the state in the 20th century, according to information from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

Horry and Georgetown counties were declared disasters after the Category 4 storm made landfall 90 miles south in Charleston.

Businesses and homes were either severely damaged or destroyed by Hugo and three Myrtle Beach piers completely disappeared.

Throughout the state there were 13 directly related deaths, 22 indirect deaths and several hundred injuries, SCEMD reports.

South Carolina experienced $6.5 billion worth of damages, and more than 60,000 people were left homeless.

Only 264,000 people evacuated from their homes across eight counties.

Hurricane Hazel: October 1954

When Hurricane Hazel, a Category 4 storm, made landfall it took most of the Grand Strand with it.

Newspaper reports from 1954 said only two houses were left standing on Pawleys Island’s north end. A new inlet was reportedly cut into the south end.

In addition, almost every structure east of Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach was destroyed or damaged by Hazel.

The National Weather Service reports the storm produced 106 mph winds in Myrtle Beach, and is one of the most severe storms to ever hit S.C.

Hazel occurred during the highest astronomical tide cycles of the year, which led to storm surge estimated to be 18 feet.