Despite the overcast day, more than a dozen people walked the downtown Myrtle Beach boardwalk Thursday morning, watching the waves as the tide brought the ocean water up, covering most of the beach.
But on the southern end of the boulevard and further inland on Kings Highway, the sporadic person walked down the road, an uncommon site for September in Myrtle Beach. Police vehicles patrolling the streets made up most of the cars driving down the normally busy roads.
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With the impending threat of Hurricane Florence off the Carolina coast, several Myrtle Beach businesses heeded warnings from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, boarding up their windows and shutting their doors to customers.
However, the warnings didn’t stop several residents from trekking to the beach to see it one last time before the storm blows in.
“We love storms,” said resident and businesses owner Stormy Walls. “I love the excitement of them coming in and riding them out.”
Walls, who owns Sons Shine Printing, 1211 3rd Ave South, said she and her husband did prepare their home and their business for the incoming weather by boarding up the windows.
The couple has endured several storms, they said, including Hurricane Hugo, which hit the Grand Strand as a Category 4 in 1989, Hurricane Fran in 1996 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“We just use wisdom and pray,” Walls said. “It’s just a great thrill-seeking day for me.”
Despite her enthusiasm, the City of Myrtle Beach has prepared for the storm. Along the boardwalk garbage cans were taken out of their concrete holders and gondolas were removed from the SkyWheel. Parking meters were removed from the side of the road.
Some oceanfront businesses chose to not board up their windows, including restaurants and motels, despite predicted storm surge up to six feet.
In Carolina Forest, families worked to move anything outside to a safe location where it would not blow away. Tracy McGrath, who lives in Carolina Forest, was visiting the beach in downtown Myrtle Beach Thursday morning with her family, who are planning on riding out the storm.
“It’s beautiful out,” McGrath said, as the wind started to pick up on the beach. “We just wanted to see it.”
Hurricane Florence is set to hit the Carolina coast Friday around 2 a.m. as a Category 2 storm. Graphics from the National Weather Service show the storm moving into South Carolina as a tropical storm. The Myrtle Beach area is expected to receive over 18 inches in rain.
As the storm approaches, John Brabhan and his wife Laura rolled up to the beach on his Harley Davidson, out for “one last ride,” before the storm.