‘PLEASE LEAVE’: Myrtle Beach area officials hope residents take hurricane seriously

North Myrtle Beach surfer’s catching Florence swell

Surfers from Cherry Grove Pier surf club catch the first of the swells from Hurricane Florence on Wednesday morning.
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Surfers from Cherry Grove Pier surf club catch the first of the swells from Hurricane Florence on Wednesday morning.

Following a shift in the projected path of Hurricane Florence, local county and municipal officials are hoping more residents evacuate.

Horry County spokeswoman Kelly Moore said Wednesday morning that residents need to evacuate immediately or prepare to be without power for up to two weeks.

“Anyone thinking of hunkering down, make sure you’re self-sustaining for 14 days,” she said.

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Officials don’t have numbers on how many residents evacuated, but based on traffic flow, a lot of people have left the area since Gov. Henry McMaster announced the mandatory evacuation order Monday afternoon that went into effect Tuesday at noon, Moore said.

Traffic was minimal on Horry County roads Wednesday morning.

Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach said traffic has been pretty calm as officials prepared.

The hurricane’s projected path shifted south, according to the National Weather Service’s Wednesday morning update, putting the Myrtle Beach area in line for a near-direct hit.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said he’s thinking more people will “trickle out” given the new projection.

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The county’s emergency management team is prepared, Lazarus said, adding that ongoing conversations with municipal and state officials are centered on properly staffing the storm shelters and planning for the aftermath.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, in meetings with state and local officials Wednesday morning, couldn’t be reached prior to The Sun News’ print deadline.

City manager John Pedersen signed an executive order Wednesday prohibiting anyone from entering the ocean until further notice, according to the city’s Facebook page.

Violators are subject to arrest, and Myrtle Beach fire and police personnel will be monitoring the beach, the post states.

North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley said her city is “as prepared as we can possibly be for the unknown,” though she acknowledged she’s anxious not knowing exactly where the eye of the storm will hit.

Hatley said she’s continuing to encourage residents to evacuate — she convinced her elderly neighbors to get to higher ground on Tuesday — for their safety and to reduce the burden on first responders.

“PLEASE LEAVE” was the subject line of the city’s message to its residents Wednesday morning, pointing to the new path projections.

North Myrtle Beach will have 187 fire and police personnel on duty for the duration, Hatley said.

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Hatley added that she wants residents to know that they are working with state officials to coordinate resources that will bring life in the Grand Strand back to order as soon as possible, but she needs people to be patient and understanding during that process.

Lazarus emphasized that the inconvenience caused by evacuation is well worth the assurance of no lives being lost.

Just across the border in North Carolina, the town of Calabash is sounding the alarm.

“The unpredictability of this storm, with it being 48 hours out, means that you should plan for the worst,” town Clerk Sue Stuhr wrote in a public information bulletin Wednesday morning.

Stuhr added that current projections indicate that “wind, rain and surge will pound us for hours.”

David Weissman: @WeissmanMBO; 843-626-0305
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