RENEE SEXTON (South Carolina Radio Network): Business is back to normal at Myrtle Beach after Hurricane Florence — if you can fly there.
“There is access but it’s very limited,” says Karen Riordan, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our airport is open.” “It is challenging because so many roads had to close because of flooding or a concern that the road could wash out.” Riordan says Myrtle Beach was spared damage from Hurricane Florence. "The actual coastal zone, what most people think of as Myrtle Beach proper, is absolutely perfect,” she said. “We are so blessed that the damage from Hurricane Florence was very minimal . . . actually, if you were here with me right now, you would not believe that we had a hurricane come through.”
Many of the roads leading to the Grand Strand cross the Waccamaw and Pee Dee River basins, which are currently well above flood stage. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses are open.
“It’s a much different picture outside of Myrtle Beach,” Riordan says. “All of our efforts now are to help our neighbors to the west of us and unfortunately, that’s where most of the workforce for the Myrtle Beach area lives and so it’s been very, very trying for business owners. They’ve had situations where their businesses can open because it’s along the Grand Strand but they can’t get themselves to that business or they can’t get their important employees over to the business because of where they’re located.”
Riordan notes that the chamber has been taking phone calls and requests for information from concerned tourists. It’s also had to help large groups reschedule reservations. She encourages potential visitors to consider rebooking for two weeks from now.
“Think about coming the second week of October when it’s still pretty and still warm. They could still have a great vacation experience here, they’re just really going to need to delay that a little while so they don’t put themselves in jeopardy,” says Riordan. “A lot of our lodging properties have really stepped up in just an amazing way, very generously offering to put up evacuees for very, very reasonable rates so many people are taking advantage of that and actually sheltering in our hotels right now.”
The chamber also has been organizing fundraisers for disaster victims and collecting donated supplies.
“We’re so happy to help however we can.”