Hotels prepare for hurricane season 2010

By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As hurricane season officially kicks off Tuesday, oceanfront hotels say they have plans in place in the event that a hurricane strikes the Grand Strand.

At The Darlington hotel, Terry Hucks says the building is made of concrete from the ground up and it has proven itself over and over when faced with severe weather.

"I'd vote for my building most of the time," Hucks said with a laugh adding, however, that he tries not to underestimate the power of Mother Nature.

Oceans One GM Ray Booth says most newer buildings are under stricter codes.

"Our windows are rated to 210 mph wind gusts," Booth said. "That's different from a lot of the older places."

Even still, both Hucks and Booth say there is only so much they can do to prepare for a hurricane.

"Put everything inside that will go inside," Hucks said. "And what won't, just hope it's there when you get home."

Hucks says boarding up the windows is just so costly it is typically not worth it.

"There's not a whole lot we can do," Booth agreed. "Even taping the windows sometimes helps, but it's not something that we usually do with a hotel."

They say having a location on the water can actually have its advantages when it comes to wind damage.

"If it's blowing off the water then you don't have a lot of debris that is going to bust windows," Booth explained. "You have to worry about the tidal surge, but as far as tree limbs and things of that nature we don't have to worry about too much on the oceanfront."

Nevertheless, they do not take any chances when the weather kicks up.

"We're a very small hotel so we can talk one-to-one with people," Hucks said. "If it's over a Category 1 we'll say 'Adios, you need to go home.'"

Booth says every once in a while they will run into some people that hide and want to stay around, but they have to root them out and send them inland and out of Mother Nature's wrath.

When guests are forced to leave, managers say it can have major impacts on business, even if the storm does not end up making a direct hit.

"When you make people leave you don't have option of them staying somewhere and then coming back," Booth said. "If they leave and have to go home, it will take us a week before we cycle back through and get a whole new crowd of people in here to fill the place up."

Even before guests are forced to leave, Booth says hurricane forecasts can have major impacts on hotel and condotel bookings.

"The people that come from Kansas, Tennessee - they've never seen a hurricane before," he said. "What they see on TV is Katrina, Andrew and things like that. Obviously, they have a right to be worried."

Booth says that often means visitors will question whether or not it's a good time to come to the beach at all.

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