North Myrtle Beach on Monday declared a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, giving the city manager more authority to make decisions that would normally come before council and making it easier to get federal funds if the storm causes damage to the North Strand.
The ordinance comes on the heels of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s state of emergency declaration on Saturday and Horry County’s similar declaration on Sunday, as Hurricane Dorian’s path shifted north towards the Carolinas.
“Essentially, it’s for if we need to make some sort of emergency purchase because of the hurricane,” said City Manager Mike Mahaney. “That gives me the authority.”
Mayor Marilyn Hatley said the ordinance, which is only effective for 60 days, also gives police the authority to request that people in Zone A leave, complying with a mandatory evacuation order that went into effect at noon Monday. However, residents who reside in zone A, which includes areas east of Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach and east of U.S. 17 in North Myrtle, may stay if they want to.
“For the next two days, we’ll be going door-to door-to door as the time gets nearer, as Dorian comes closer to our area,” Hatley said. “Hopefully we don’t have to use the state of emergency. But we have the power now to use it and it will give our staff and our police department the tools they need to make sure everyone is safe.”
On Monday morning, the North Myrtle Beach Humane Society evacuated 33 adoptable cats and 18 adoptable dogs to three other facilities in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area through a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States, according to North Myrtle Beach Humane Society Executive Director Tina Hunter.
There are still animals under stray hold (animals that are held to give their owners time to claim them) that remain in the shelter, Hunter said. Those animals will be moved to the Horry County Animal Care Center in Conway in case of an evacuation of Zone C.
But the state and local officials’ sense of urgency wasn’t matched by the people on the street and on the beach. On Main Street, no windows were boarded up, plenty of shops were still open for business and vacationers were wasting no time away from the ocean, albeit a cloudy, greenish-grey ocean too dangerous for swimming due to the strong currents.
Dale Martin of Greensboro, North Carolina, was playing Bocce Ball near The Point in Cherry Grove as the sun tried to break through the cloudcover.
“Why not?” he said. “We’re on vacation.”
Martin’s vacation was supposed to last until Sunday, but the threat of a hurricane cut it short.
“We’re going to look at it tomorrow to see if we’ll leave tomorrow night or Wednesday morning,” he added.
On Main Street, Don Guthrie of Longs was relaxing at Ducks with a Bud Light, watching people amble up and down the sidewalks.
“I don’t think we’re going to get much of one,” he said. “We’re just probably going to get the rain and a little bit of wind.”
Guthrie wasn’t concerned about the hurricane and said he hadn’t boarded up his home yet.
“They’re updating it every hour and it just seems like it’s fading more away from us than hit us directly,” he added. “You never know, though.”