This photo provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Monday as it threatens the U.S. East Coast.
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Elyria native Jeff Wilhelm has seen plenty of hurricanes during the last 23 years he’s been living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
He saw the destruction caused by Category 3 Fran in 1996 and the flooding caused by Category 4 Floyd in 1999, along with the scourge of Category 1 Matthew in 2016. Now, he’s preparing for Florence, which is expected to be a Category 4.
“I guess it’s a little bit of yes and no,” he said, when asked if he was nervous about the impending storm, which is supposed to make landfall on the eastern coast of the United States later this week, leaving North and South Carolina in its path. “There can be a lot of hype involved because they want to make sure people are safe but at the same time, there’s time to prepare for a hurricane as opposed to something like a tornado.”
Wilhelm said he will be holing up in his Myrtle Beach townhouse for the storm rather than taking part in the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s mandatory evacuation order for all coastal zones.
“I have a pet and it’s just really hard to evacuate with pets because not all of the shelters will take them,” he said. “So a lot of locals will stay back because of that reason or to look after their homes.”
Loris, South Carolina, resident Christine Meinhold said she’s also going to be staying put because of her pets — seven dogs, two of whom were rescued from the flooding that followed Hurricane Matthew.
“I can’t travel with this many dogs,” she said. “There’s no way, but I do have several trees on my property that could fall on my house and that definitely has me concerned.”
Meinhold, who has lived in the south since leaving Grafton “seven or eight years ago,” said she helped with some of the animals following Matthew and found a lot of people had left farm animals, dogs and cats abandoned, sometimes tied up to trees and left to die.
Meinhold said residents should stay with their animals or take them with them to at least “give them a fighting chance.”
“Going out after Matthew, everything had flooded,” she said. “And that was just a Category 1 storm. This is expected to be a Category 4 when it hits here. I just hope people from up north do call and check on their relatives down here.”
Lori Kilgore, a Grafton resident, said she has called and spoken with her son, Brandon, 19, several times as he and his classmates at Johnson and Wales University prepare for the hurricane to come inland in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I’m in worried-mom mode,” she said. “It’s my youngest child away from home and all of this is going on. He said the school didn’t seem too concerned and he really wants to know if they’ll be closing school or not.”
Kilgore said even though her son is an adult, she’s still nervous about the storm because a loss of power could mean the loss of a way to contact him.
“Right now, as a weather buff, I just keep checking the progress to see how it’s going,” she said. “But the unknown is what’s really nerve-wracking.”
Kilgore said this isn’t her family’s first experience with a high-magnitude hurricane in the Carolinas. When the family took their first beach vacation in 2004, Category 4 Hurricane Charley was getting ready to hit the coast.
“We had been on our way down when the hotel we were staying at evacuated,” she said. “So we ended up staying inland actually in Charlotte. By the time we were cleared to head back out, the line to check in was almost three hours and when we got to the room, the walls were covered in water.”
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