Business is back to normal at Myrtle Beach after Hurricane Florence — if you can fly there.
“There is access but it’s very limited,” Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Karen Riordan said. “Our airport is open.”
Many of the roads leading to the Grand Strand cross the Waccamaw and Pee Dee River basins, which are currently well above flood stage. The South Carolina Department of Transportation said floodwaters receded enough to reopen S.C. Highway 22 in northern Horry County. Prior to that, the only western access into the Myrtle Beach region was U.S. Highway 501, which was down to a single lane in each direction due to flooding on the Waccamaw River.
“It is challenging because so many roads had to close because of flooding or a concern that the road could wash out,” Riordan said.
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.”
Hotels, restaurants and other businesses are open. However, many are struggling for customers or tourists given what is happening elsewhere in the county.
“It’s a much different picture outside of Myrtle Beach,” she said. “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 said the chamber has been taking phone calls and requests for information from concerned tourists. It has 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,” she said. “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.”
The chamber also has been organizing fundraisers for disaster victims and collecting donated supplies.
“We’re so happy to help however we can,” she said.