Hurricane Irene expected to have effect on SC coast

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) After slipping by the ravages of hurricanes for the past several years, South Carolina is expected to feel the effects of Hurricane Irene later this week and into the weekend.

The National Hurricane Center has Irene making landfall near the Grand Strand Saturday afternoon as a category one storm with 90 mph winds. While the Grand Strand is still in the current prediction cone, WMBF Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Rob Hatchell says the storm may begin to veer to the east, lessening the potential damage to Myrtle Beach and other coastal towns.

Emergency management officials in Horry County are gearing up to face Irene's impact. They say they're monitoring the storm closely and going over hurricane plans.

"This storm is not going to go away. It's not going to do like Emily did and be torn apart and not be an issue. There'll be some type of impact from this storm, hopefully lesser than greater," said Randy Webster, director of Emergency Management.

Webster says residents in Horry County need to start preparing too and begin by asking themselves lots of questions.

"If I have to evacuate how am I going to get there, what's my route? Do I have what I need to take with me, important papers, basic hurricane survival kit? What am I going to do with my family, what am I going to do with my pet?" said Webster.

Officials with the Coastal Chapter of the American Red Cross are also recommending Grand Strand residents take precautions ahead of the storm.

"Make sure you got enough supplies for a minimum of 3 days, make sure you have a gallon of water for each day for each person, get a weather radio, fresh batteries." said Nanci Connely of the American Red Cross.

In 2009, The Red Cross invested in a new emergency operations center that could be opened if Hurricane Irene poses a greater threat to the Carolinas.

"Even if the storm doesn't hit us directly, we have neighbors in the Charleston area and throughout so we need to work together to make sure everyone is safe." Conely added.

WMBF News did catch up with some people who said they would begin preparing over the next day or so.

"As it approaches I get some food together, get me some clothes, nail up my windows and hit the road," said Charles Jones of Myrtle Beach.

Although the storm's track still has time to deviate before nearing the Carolinas, Grand Strand residents may consider making preliminary plans in the case of Irene hitting the area. You can use the WMBF Hurricane tips for before the storm.

In addition, use the WMBF Hurricane Tracker to follow Irene as she moves toward Florida and up the eastern coast.

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