NORTH MYRTLE BEACH – Clear skies over Grand Strand on October 1 allowed residents to start picking up the pieces along the coast after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Georgetown County on September 30.
The Category 1 hurricane destroyed Horry and northern Georgetown counties when it made landfall at 2:05 p.m. just south of the city of Georgetown. In Horry County, the day after the hurricane landfall, the focus was on mitigating damage from Hurricane Ian.
In Cherry Grove, Jeff Rose used to rent out the lower portion of his former white and navy two-story, third-row beach house off Lake Drive, but that ended after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“Before, it was an apartment and after Hurricane Matthew, I rebuilt it again; After the last hurricane, I said to hell, I don’t do that anymore.
As Hurricane Ian passed, Rose stayed in the house built in 1973 by her in-laws like any other storm, but noted how quickly the storm surge came through the first floor and in the Cherry Grove driveway behind his house.
“When the wind came around the back (of the house) and the water converged from the ocean; everything fell into place,” Rose said. “I got to 16 inches of water here.
“I guess it took less than an hour for all that water to converge.”
Rose’s closed first floor had a watermark along the wall on October 1, illustrating the aftermath of its flood damage. But he said it is now thankfully used mainly for storage, with plastic containers, bric-a-brac and his collection of fishing rods.
Beeps from a stainless steel refrigerator could be heard as he moved everything in his front yard to dry. In the backyard, the water near his pier was at normal levels, but a neighbor’s pier across the driveway rested in his side yard, the second time the same pier visited his Lake Drive home after a storm.
Mike Harmon looked up and took note of various missing shingles at the Cherry Grove Villas on North 53rd Avenue, but acknowledged that it could have been much worse. Harmon works for the Noble Company, a property management team that manages many properties along the Grand Strand.
Wearing gray construction gloves, brown boots and wary of the debris surrounding him, Harmon said the company’s properties remained mostly unscathed despite unexpectedly rising water at Cherry Grove Beach.
“All things considered, everything was fine,” Harmon said. “No loss of life and nothing that cannot be replaced.”
“Most of the cleanup operations take place in Garden City. Clear sand and debris from roads,” Horry County Public Information Officer Thomas Bell said via text message.
“The county as a whole weathered the storm well. Of course, people who have seen storm surge flood or trees fall on their property or home will have a recovery period that can take time. Considering a Category 1 hurricane came so close to landfall here, it’s very fortunate that there weren’t more issues overall.
Grand Strand crews worked to clean up Garden City and Surfside Beach.
“Most of the cleanup operations take place in Garden City. Clear sand and debris from roads,” said Thomas Bell, Horry County Public Information Officer.
“The county as a whole weathered the storm well. Of course, people who have seen storm surge flood or trees fall on their property or home will have a recovery period that can take time. Considering a Category 1 hurricane came so close to landfall here, it’s very fortunate that there weren’t more issues overall,” he said.
Bell said the county is asking people to stay out of the Garden City area so crews can work as quickly as possible to clear things up and get back to normal.
Governor Henry McMaster and numerous state and local officials held a press conference at 4 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Anthuan Mabank Track Field in Georgetown to thank each other and discuss the state’s response to the hurricane.
“It’s a good day,” the governor said. “There was property damage and some schedules were disrupted, but South Carolina stayed strong.”
McMaster said that before the hurricane hit, he received calls from the Corps of Engineers, FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and President Joe Biden.
“The president said, and I agree, South Carolina is a beautiful place, I had to agree with him on that,” McMaster said.
The governor also noted that hurricane season isn’t over, and even after it ends in October, there’s still next year.
“We will continue to build, and as we do, let’s all just be grateful to live in the most beautiful place in the world,” the governor said.
When asked if evacuations had been considered, McMaster said no.
“We were watching it minute by minute,” McMaster said. “If we have to disrupt lives, schedules and businesses, we do, but we have to be very careful and, as the old saying goes, measure twice and cut once… We watched it very closely and I think we made the right choice.
“Our assessment teams went out this morning to assess property damage,” Brandon Ellis, director of Georgetown Emergency Service Management, said Oct. 1. “The city of Georgetown emerged relatively unscathed, with the bulk of the damage concentrated in the area south of Waccamaw Pass.”
Ellis said county workers and SCDOT crews were working from Garden City to Pawleys Island to clear roads while utility companies continued to work to restore power to Georgetown County residents.
Pawleys Island is closed to all but owners, contractors and public safety personnel, Ellis said.
Ellis said he would have a better idea of the extent of the destruction in Georgetown County later in the day.
In Georgetown County, the butt end of the Pawleys Island pier collapsed and floated south, the Pawleys Island Police Department reported at 1:23 p.m. on Twitter.
The city of Georgetown suffered flooding along Front Street and some downed trees, but otherwise came through the hurricane relatively unscathed.
“I’ve walked most of the city and haven’t seen a significant amount of tree damage,” Mayor Carol Gyroe said Sept. 30. We have crews working now to restore power. “. The crews will assess tonight and into the morning. I expect a report from the department by mid-morning. It was nothing compared to Hugo in 1989. I was here then.”
About 3,983 residents of Georgetown County were still without power as of 1 p.m. Oct. 1, but Ellis said the clear weather kept utility crews busy with their restoration efforts.
This is an ongoing story and was last updated at 5:56 p.m.
Georgetown Times staff Randal Seyler, Nicole Ziege, Mike Woodel and Richard Caines contributed to this report.