HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Ian gained strength in the Atlantic Thursday, becoming a hurricane again at 5 p.m after the National Hurricane Center’s update.
Horry County, among many other local governments in our area, declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm. It’s forecast to make landfall on the southern shores of South Carolina.
“This isn’t a cake walk,” Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster said. “It’s a dangerous situation.”
While the storm has not prompted mandatory evacuations in Horry County, Webster said people should not discount the storm’s potential impacts.
“I am concerned about flash flooding that may take place,” Webster said. “I am definitely concerned about the coastal flooding. And I’m definitely concerned about the risk of tornadoes, especially if they come overnight [Thursday into Friday.]
Horry County shifted operations to “OPCON 2” Thursday morning at 9 a.m., meaning a heightened state of awareness. County officials plan to shift to “OPCON 1” Friday morning at 9 a.m.
Webster said Ian’s shifting path has forced his team to make constant planning and prep adjustments. The emergency management teams expects between 40 and 50 people on hand at the operations center in Conway for this storm.
Webster said the entire county will feel some sort of impact from Hurricane Ian.
“We got the coastal flooding to work with on the immediate coast,” Webster said. It is 1152 square miles in this county. It’s very large, so we will have impacts along the western part of the county that we may not have at all on the East side and back and forth, but we’re used to that. We know what to do, and how to get there, and how to take care of folks if they need it.”
Webster said dialing 911 if you need emergency services is always the best way to get help in a storm like the one expected, but Webster added first responders can only try their best to get to all the calls.
In Myrtle Beach, New Directions of Horry County is operating Thursday night under “code blue,” meaning the shelter will make room for a few dozen extra people above the number of available beds.
“New Directions will make sure anybody who needs help can stay safe during the storm,” New Directions Executive Director Kathy Jenkins said.
Santee Cooper will have 13 additional crews on standby during the storm. Plans changed Thursday morning with the forecast. Linemen slated for Florida will now remain in South Carolina as Ian inches closer.
“They’ll be out the duration of the storm, so as power’s going out, they’ll be putting power back on,” Santee Cooper Spokesperson Tracy Vreeland said. “The only time they can’t work is when winds are 35mph or more because they can’t put the buckets up in that type of windspeed.”
On the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, staples Duffy’s and The Bowery will stay open.
“It’s Bike Week Fall Rally 2022,” owner Victor Shamah said. “We’re here. My employees need to work. As long it’s not a danger, we’ll be open.”
Thursday’s gray skies, strong winds and rough waters didn’t keep people off the beach.
“Being from Louisiana, we’ve ridden out many hurricanes, so this is not my first rodeo,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy flies out of South Carolina Saturday when the storm is expected to leave the area.