A day after Hurricane Florence made landfall, public safety officials are beginning to assess the damages and make sure the area is safe for possible re-entry.If you’re thinking about heading back this way, you should wait, officials say.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has not lifted the evacuation order he put in place Tuesday, and it is not clear when the order will be lifted.
According to a post on the City of Myrtle Beach’s Facebook page, officials do not know when people will be let back into the area because the storm is still moving across the Grand Strand as a tropical storm. Despite the downgrade, winds are still expected to range from 20-35 mph with up to 50 mph wind gusts.
Crews across Horry County are out Saturday morning assessing the damage, and ask people to stay away for safety precautions. With that said, officers will not be stopping people re-entering on safe roads.
Throughout the day Friday, Myrtle Beach received 60 damage reports ranging from downed power lines and trees, to traffic signals not working, debris and flooded roadways.
“Our goal is to make things safe for re-entry, so that people can return to homes and businesses as quickly as possible,” the city’s Facebook post reads.
In Horry County, approximately 80,000 homes were without power around 8:30 a.m. Saturday and many stores remained closed. Some roads also have downed tree limbs and power lines, making driving conditions unsafe.
“Roads are going to be flooded and power is out,” said county spokesperson Kelly Moore. “You’ll be returning to that.”
If a road is unsafe, public safety officials will stop people from using that road, Moore said.
Still, if you’re returning to the area, make sure to have proof-of-residency in case your road is closed or you run into any problems re-entering.
Horry County utility crews are checking power lines and looking to clean up roads. Gusty winds on the back end of Florence could make it hard for crews to begin repairing lines.
Flooding is still expected to cause massive damage in the area as rain lingers for several days.
The county will continue to monitor the situation, Moore said, and the Horry County Emergency Operations Center will continue to be open. The EOC was open for 25 days for Hurricane Matthew, and Moore believes it could be open even longer this time.
Horry County Office of Emergency Management Director Randy Webster said the expectation is the evacuation order will be lifted on Sunday.
Residents will not need an ID to reenter and local agencies will be stations to help with traffic. Officials did ask for people’s patience as they return to the area with likely traffic congestion.