Businesses lean on locals following Florence

Businesses lean on locals following Florence
(Source: Klein, Ian)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It’s been nearly a month since Hurricane Florence forced locals and vacationers to evacuate the Grand Strand, making this previous month tough on business owners and some real estate agents.

September, which is usually the last busy month before entering the shoulder season, was followed by Hurricane Florence, major flooding and closed roadways, cutting the tourism season short.

As Michael approaches, businesses are hoping they won’t be washed out again.

“It is hard because the people can’t drive and your locals are little scared to come out a bit it’s bouncing back slowly,” said Kathleen Gagaul.

Gagaul works at Sundown Sports Pub which remained open until Hurricane Florence made landfall, shutting them down for several days.

With weaker coastal impacts expected Thursday, realtors in Surfside Beach are not forced to evacuate vacationers like they were for Florence.

“People save up all year for their vacation, so I think that it’s just disappointing when you can’t go on your family vacation,” said Kimberley Causey-Gomez.

Further down the South Strand, Garden City Grocery owner Tammy Hoagland kept her doors open during Florence to help locals prepare which has helped keep businesses moving.

“It feels great because without us being open here people would not have had anywhere to go to get the things they needed. It’s nice to be able to stay open and help out the community,” said Tammy Hoagland.

As for beach house rentals, Causey-Gomez hopes vacationers will use their extra week to visit during the slower tourism months, which should also help local business owners.

“It might help with their off-season a little bit, this is a great time to come despite today being a rainy day and Hurricane Michael coming,” said Causey-Gomez.

Both Sundown Sports Pub and the Garden City Grocery plan to stay open as Michael makes its way across South Carolina, however Surfside Beach Realty will be closed Thursday.

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