Hurricane Dorian brought rain, winds, tornadoes and flash floods Thursday to residents of the upper South Carolina coast.
As the storm began to beat down Charleston early Thursday, winds from the hurricane ripped down trees and caused floods in nearby McClellanville.
McClellanville was ravaged by Category 4 Hugo in 1989. At that time, the north side of the eyewall passed right over the fishing community, flipping boats and leveling homes.
Susan Martindale and her brother Eirvin Ashley had put up plywood to cover the windows of their family home in the small fishing town, located right off the creek.
They were praying it wouldn’t be a repeat of '89.
“We’re keeping an eye on Dorian,” Ashley said. “Hugo took the front porch when a barge came crashing through.”
For residents like Ed Taylor, a shrimp fisherman on his boat Savannah Hope, they feel overly prepared to take on what Dorian could bring later in the day.
“Everybody goes back to Hugo,” Taylor said. “But with this one, we’re faring. We’ve missed a whole week’s work because of Dorian.”
Spanish moss and branches crowded most streets. Occasionally, trucks circled around town to check out some of the preliminary damage.
Less than an hour away, in Georgetown, Dorian’s surging rains made short work of Front Street. The main stretch for businesses and restaurants downtown.
Multiple business on the popular stretch of downtown were submerged in at least 3 feet of water. By the middle of the day, power was out in the entire city of Georgetown.
Georgetown city officials were contacted by the National Weather Service earlier in the week warning them that the municipality’s proximity to Dorian could lead to record storm surges and flooding.
Echoing a trend seen across the coast, Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said, “There’s a lot of people who didn’t evacuate.”
County officials have more than 70 people working at a full-time emergency operation center just outside of downtown. Armed with dozens of phones, TV screens and radios, the team has been providing countless updates on social media and radio to residents.
Sal Hemingway, county administrator, said they had their emergency operations nearly down to a science.
“We’ve had a lot of practice in the past four or five years,” Hemingway said. “As far as the impact of this storm, we’re lucky that it’s tracking a little more to the east.”
But the brutal winds battered East Bay Park downtown, and downed wires and trees were commonplace.
Front Street routinely gets saturated during high tide, but Dorian's impact was an exception.
Municipal trash cans were halfway submerged. Parked cars were flooded. And all the business on the main three block stretch that didn’t properly place sandbags or nailed plywood to their doors and windows found water slowly creeping in.
One business on the street, however, was still open. Buzz’s Roost, a seafood restaurant and bar off of Winyah Bay, was still wide open.
As one customer nibbled away at a sandwich, bar tender Sabrina McClellan answered the phone for a takeout order. Moments later, the power went out.
“I’ve been here through most of it,” McClellan said calmly as water started to rise up the entrance ramp to the store. “My fiancé is one of the owners. So we’re leaving once it gets bad.”
Keeley Morris and Arica Wade drove from Maryville. The two customers waded into Buzz’s Roost to pick up their to-go containers filled with chicken tenders and fries.
When asked why they didn’t evacuate, Morris said she had work the next morning and Wade said her two kids and dog needed her attention.
Buzz’s Roost manager Bill Schmidt said Thursday’s flooding was worse than any previous storm.
“The potential is there for disaster, and I feel bad for the people in the community,” Schmidt said. “It’s devastating for business. It’s just sad.”
As Georgetown dealt with surge flooding brought on by Dorian, nearby Myrtle Beach declared a state of an emergency.
The Happy Holiday Motel on Ocean Boulevard had its plastic roof ripped off from hurricane-force gusts, leaving debris in a mangled mess in the parking lot.
Even coming off of prime tourism months, Myrtle Beach was unseasonably quiet. Few people wandered the streets and the ones who did were seemingly carefree.
The largest damage in the area was caused by at least two tornadoes — one in North Myrtle Beach and another just across the state line in North Carolina — that popped up as a result of the hurricane.
Many flocked to the Myrtle’s pier to watch waves slam against the side of it.
“It shows God’s power,” Edward Jalowski said, marveling at the surf. “I’m not as scared about this one, really more in awe of it.”
Many locals, like Jared Myers, were acting like tourists in their own city.
Dozens flocked to see an abandoned red Jeep slowly move toward the ocean. Others took hurricane selfies.
Despite the warnings of Dorian being one of the largest and potentially most deadly hurricanes, residents who were no strangers to Florence were unfazed.
“We didn’t even board up our windows,” Myers said. “It’s at arm’s length and we’ve been through worse.”