Cherry Grove prepares for brush with Irene

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Many residents and tourists in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach aren't taking any chances with Hurricane Irene barreling toward the coast. They're getting ready now.

The National Hurricane Center's current track for the storm has it headed to the Outer Banks, sparing much of the South Carolina coast, but a small portion of Horry County does still sit in the cone of uncertainty.

People in Cherry Grove know what it's like to deal with hurricanes and tropical storms. Flooding is also a concern in the community which is surrounded by water from the ocean and small canals.

Donna Koonts of Cherry Grove remembers Hurricane Hugo like it was yesterday. Koonts said, "There was just a lot of water. A lot of wind. I think everybody had damage like screens and shingles at least. I work at the Myrtle Beach Hilton and we had water in the lobby." Even though Koontz admits Cherry Grove can often be a bulls eye for severe weather, she said, "I think it's a little bit early and there's time if you want to get away."

Many residents are getting ready even though the storm and its potential impacts are a few days out.

Russell Burgess of Cherry Grove said he will, "go in and cut electricity off and make sure that everything's out of the freezer."

From boarding up windows and doors to securing outdoor furniture, residents are landlords are making moves to prevent any damage from high winds.

Michael Middleton of Winston-Salem is in town to ensure his parent's vacation home is in one piece when they come back. Middleton said, "They owned [it] when Hugo came through and pretty much demolished the building and you know you just try to protect a little bit. You know insurance down here is outrageous. Just boarding up everything for flying debris if you get any of that and hope for the best. You hope the storm turns out."

Some say they're still in wait-and-see mode and they'll make preparations when they see more evidence that the storm may become a bigger threat.

Officials in North Myrtle Beach say they're still on alert, but are feeling better about the storm's track eastward.

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