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Yes, Florence was downgraded. No, that doesn’t mean it’s OK to return to Myrtle Beach

Garden City business not taking a chance with Hurricane Florence

Georgie Martin has owned the Garden City Pavilion Arcade and Gigi's Grill for 40 years but was wiped out by Hurricane Hugo. She's not taking a chance with Hurricane Florence.
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Georgie Martin has owned the Garden City Pavilion Arcade and Gigi's Grill for 40 years but was wiped out by Hurricane Hugo. She's not taking a chance with Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence had yet to make landfall, but residents who evacuated Myrtle Beach earlier this week were already asking whether they can return.

The answer is absolutely not.

Emergency personnel received numerous calls Thursday morning after the storm was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, Horry County spokeswoman Gina Vasselli said.

Gov. Henry McMaster’s mandatory evacuation order remains in effect, she noted. Local officials will let the public know when it’s safe to return, she said.

Officials estimate that about 70 percent of residents in evacuation zones within Horry and Georgetown counties had left as of Thursday morning, according to county spokeswoman Kelly Moore.

With winds in the 110-mph range, Florence was still close to a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said. A Category 2 storm means winds of 96-110 mph; a Category 3 storm means 111-129 mph. Category 4 is 130 to 156 mph.

Life-threatening storm surge and flooding remains likely along the Carolina coasts, according to the National Weather Service.

The county is encouraging residents to continue calling the emergency operation center’s phone bank at 843-915-5150 for any non-emergency questions.

David Weissman: @WeissmanMBO; 770-377-5326

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