Several boats lined the dock at Dock Holiday’s Marina in North Myrtle Beach, bobbing up and down in the calm water. A few people were even sitting on their boats, drinking beer and soaking up the sun.
Aboard Gypsy Wings, owner Michael Leonard, was making preparations this week for Hurricane Florence, a Category 3 hurricane that is looming off the Carolina coast.
Despite staying on the boat during Hurricane Matthew, which hit the Grand Strand in October 2016, and through Hurricane Irma, which missed the area last September, Leonard is tying down his boat and staying at a hotel in Myrtle Beach.
“Anything from a two, two and a half, three I would stay, but this one’s exceeding that,” Leonard said. “My boat can go. I’m going to take care of me.”
The decision was easy to make for Leonard, however, after a tornado tore through North Myrtle Beach during Hurricane Matthew, just missing the marina. But for Dylan Goodwin, the decision to stay on his boat, Summer Memories, stemmed from the fear of looters.
Goodwin, who has not decided whether he will stay, said looters target areas where they know people have evacuated.
“It’s your house,” he said. “The main reason why I don’t want to leave the area is you can’t get back into the boat. So if it takes five days, seven days, I can’t see what’s happened to the house, and you’ve got the looters that come in and take what is left.”
With Hurricane Florence poised to hit on the southern edge of North Carolina, several North Myrtle Beach businesses are preparing. Along Main Street, most businesses were boarded up, some spray painted with inspirational quotes.
Stevie Watts, who has run a produce stand in the area for five years, was working to protect his shop Wednesday afternoon.
“At first, I wasn’t worried,” Watts said. “Now that they mentioned Hazel, I’m very worried.”
North Myrtle Beach isn’t the only coastal town preparing for the storm. With the storm set to hit in southern North Carolina, most businesses were boarded up in Calabash, North Carolina.
While restaurants sat empty on the Calabash River on Wednesday afternoon, two fisherman enjoyed the day in a small fishing boat.
At the Waterfront Seafood Shack, owner Serina Taylor was making last-minute preparations, emptying out offices and moving boats into a cove further down the river.
“It’s very frightening. It’s going to be a devastating time for many, many people up and down the coast,” Taylor said.
Despite the threat to the coast, Taylor said her family will stay at their home where they have horses and several other animals.
Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the coast Friday.
While the path of the storm made a southern turn toward the Grand Strand, the storm is expected to hit as a Category 2 or 3 storm in southeastern North Carolina before turning over the Grand Strand.