First Alert Weather: Surviving all the hurricanes from Hazel to Matthew

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Hurricane Matthew's name was recently retired, joining the ranks of the most destructive hurricanes since the naming list began nearly 65 years ago.

Hazel, Hugo, Floyd and now Matthew are among the names of storms the National Hurricane Center has retired, and their winds and water have carved their names into the history of the Grand Strand.

But not on Caroline Carmichael's home, which sits just a block from the beach.

"I've stayed through a lot of them, and this old house is still standing," said the 89-year-old Carmichael.

Over 70 years, her home off of Kings Highway has stood its ground.

Carmichael, a lifelong resident of Myrtle Beach, said her home "was built in 1947, so imagine the storms it's been through and we've never had a broken window. So the man upstairs has been with us a lot of times."

The first major storm to try to take this house down was Hurricane Hazel in October 1954.

While the water from the Category 3 storm didn't damage her home, according to the National Weather Service, 80 percent of waterfront properties were destroyed. That included the motel her mother was staying at in Murrells inlet

"By the time she got out of that motel, she was up to her waist in water. I mean it was a biggie," Carmichael said.

Over the next 35 years, she and her house weathered the storms, but nothing intimidated Carmichael.

Until Hugo.

"A fireman came to the door and he said, 'We are asking everyone to leave.' And I said 'I'm not scared. We've sat through a lot of these,'" she said. "And he said, 'Well, ma'am, how many people live in this house, so we will know how many bodies to look for?' So I told my husband that I'm getting a little bit nervous."

Her children had already evacuated to Florence, but she and her husband decided to evacuate at the last second, taking their family dog inland to Columbia.

"When we came back, the electricity hadn't been off because everything in the refrigerator was still good, and nothing wrong at the house," Carmichael said.

However, just a block away at the beach, there was plenty of seaweed and debris, and a "real fishy smell," she said.

Despite being unscathed, Hugo was a wake-up call.

"We were very, very complacent about hurricanes because we really hadn't had any damage, but then I thought there's a first time for everything, and we should be a little more cautious," Carmichael said.

Still, she stayed put in her home. That included during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, despite Jim Cantore showing up at her door.

Matthew's intense winds last year finally gave a glancing blow to the home, knocking over a few trees in the yard.

But that did nothing to shake the faith and love Carmichael has had for this town all of her 89 years.

"I've been here a long time you know, and enjoyed every minute of it," she said. "And I would tell everyone don't be afraid of storms. Come on Myrtle Beach."

Carmichael said she's taken precautions before storms to remove anything in her yard that a hurricane's winds could pick up and throw.

While she's been lucky, it's always best to follow instructions from emergency officials, no matter what the category of the hurricane. This includes having a plan and knowing your evacuation zone.

Know Your Zone:

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