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‘To me, this is safer than a house.’ Locals plan to ride out Florence in their boats

Courtenay Starr rode through Hurricane Matthew at the same dock in 2016, and he plans to ride out Hurricane Florence with his girlfriend, Patti Lewis.
Courtenay Starr rode through Hurricane Matthew at the same dock in 2016, and he plans to ride out Hurricane Florence with his girlfriend, Patti Lewis. cdulaney@thestate.com

More than a dozen boats are docked at the Bucksport Marina off the Waccamaw River.

As Hurricane Florence approaches, residents can’t think of a safer place to be.

“You didn’t see the story about Noah?” said 65-year-old Derriel Morris, referring to the biblical tale of a global flood. “He was on a boat!”

This is an area that saw historic flooding in 2015. And then, before many people could recover, Hurricane Matthew pounded the community with more flooding the following year.

Morris has lived here since October 2013 and witnessed it all.

The biggest problem, he said, is with the floating dock. If the water level rises above the nearly 15-foot pylons holding the dock in place, there’s no telling where the dock will drift.

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Bucksport Marina before Hurricane Florence arrived in Horry County. Cody Dulaney cdulaney@thestate.com

“You have to know when to pull the plug and get off the boat,” said 58-year-old Jeff DeJean. “Overconfidence will get you killed.”

DeJean and his brother, Clayton, were planning to sail down to the Bahamas. But Florence had other plans, DeJean said.

Everyone who plans to ride out the storm at the marina said they will keep a close eye on the water level. If it comes anywhere close to surpassing the pylons, it’s time to cut the rope securing their boats to the dock and drift down the river to a safer spot. Then they will drop anchor and wait.

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Courtenay Starr rode through Hurricane Matthew at the same dock in 2016, and he plans to ride out Hurricane Florence with his girlfriend, Patti Lewis. Cody Dulaney cdulaney@thestate.com

Courtenay Starr rode through Hurricane Matthew at the same dock in 2016.

“It tossed me around a good bit,” he said with a laugh.

This time, he’s feeling more confident and more prepared, and his girlfriend, Patti Lewis, will be riding it out with him.

“I promised her mother that nothing would happen to her,” he said. “So, I will do whatever it takes to keep her dry.”

No one at the Bucksport Marina seemed too concerned about Hurricane Florence.

“To me, this is safer than a house,” Starr said.

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