NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — When Hurricane Ian hit the Grand Strand a year ago North Myrtle Beach was among the communities directly impacted by the high storm surge, gusty winds and flash flooding.
Officials said the Category 1 storm damaged 1,659 properties, many of them in the Cherry Grove area. First responders worked for hours, pulling out all of their resources and assets to get people to safety.
Seeing the despair of people’s houses and livelihoods being ripped away hit home for Daniel McGinnis, who volunteers with the North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad.
“I think we all remember a hurricane in our past that sometimes each, like Ian, may hit home,” McGinnis said.
City officials said the storm caused $13 million in damage, with 82% being single-family homes and 13% being multi-family residences. A year later, they said 80% of the damage has been repaired. As for beach erosion and damage to sand dunes, the city said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently designing a beach renourishment project for 2024.
A lot of the homes in [the] North Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove area, area up on stilts,” said Lance Barnes, a boat caption with North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad. “They are built up off the ground. But Cherry Gove is an older part of the town as well, so there are still a lot of single-level homes that are built flat on the ground, and those were the homes we evacuated some of those folks out of.”
Barnes said they used a high-water rescue truck for many evacuations but when the water got too deep they were able to use their search-and-rescue vessel for the first time.
“It was very beneficial and very helpful in getting some of the residents out of their homes during the height of Ian,” he said.
Fire Chief Billy Floyd, who also serves as the city’s emergency manager, said working along neighboring partners benefits the community, especially during storm conditions like Ian’s. He said the storm surge reached 4 to 5 feet and that there were wind gusts of up to 70 mph.
“We dealt with storm surge up there for several hours, where we had our personnel on patrol doing a few evacuations and rescues of some people stranded in vehicles and some people who were stranded in their homes.”
Floyd said there was one big complication. No evacuation order for the storm was issued within the necessary 36-hour window because there were no major implications until the forecast forecast started to change.
“So, we dealt with a lot more traffic on the roadways and being stuck in those flooded roadways,” Floyd said. “That really kind of hampered our response and tying up the fire and police units.”
In the end, Floyd said it was a learning experience.
“All of these storms we are able to get through and respond just help us better prepare for the next one,” he said.