Travel

Floods don’t stop some Myrtle Beach tourists, others still unsure about trips

The Ocean Drive Pavilion in North Myrtle Beach on Sunday.
The Ocean Drive Pavilion in North Myrtle Beach on Sunday. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Rainy weather and flooded roads did not stop some tourists from following through on plans to vacation at the beach this past weekend but road conditions through several states still have tourists concerned.

A group of businesswomen, determined to get to the beach for some much needed relaxation, drove through pouring rain Saturday all the way from Ashland, Ky., to get their vacation started.

“There were supposed to be seven of us but three bailed. They were afraid,” Joyce Rakes Boggs said Monday while enjoying a pedicure with her friends. Boggs said the group had looked forward to time with “no men, no kids” and leaving behind hectic jobs with long hours.

The rain did not prevent them from enjoying their time while it pelted Myrtle Beach and flooded roads. “We stayed in our pajamas all day Sunday, cooked dinner in, read books and relaxed,” Boggs said.

We’ve been telling visitors all day, as long as you can get here, you’re going to have a great time. However, the challenge is getting here. They may want to push their travel out a day or two and look for alternate routes.”

Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce

The only problems they had occurred when water started pooling in the parking lot at Pelicans Landing and they had to move their cars across from their rented condominium to a higher elevation. On Monday, in addition to their pedicures, the women planned a day of shopping and a movie in place of a day at the beach.

“We had planned this trip and we were not stopping,” Boggs said. She quoted her friend Tammy Wheeler who said, “A bad weather day at the beach is still better than a day at home or work. We’ll take the hurricane.”

Other vacationers were not quite as brave as Boggs’ group. Tom Moore, general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites on South Ocean Boulevard, said he had counted 135 cancellations as of Friday afternoon and finally lost count.

“That hurt. That was tough. But when people see the bad weather coming that’s what happens,” he said. Moore said everyone who canceled received a 100 percent refund.

“We took a strong hit but what could we do. Things like that happen and we don’t hold them (tourists) to it,” he said. “They’ll remember us down the road when they come back.”

Moore said some visitors who had planned to leave over the weekend had to stay longer because of road conditions. He also noted that some of his staff could not make it to work because they could not get there due to the flooding.

Moore said the outlook for this week is good and callers were already booking rooms for the Columbus Day weekend. He said the hotel as of Monday only had 30 rooms open out of 227. “I feel like the way the forecast looks, we’re going to do good,” he said.

Inquiries have poured into the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce mostly from people trying to determine if they should move forward with plans to visit the beach this week.

Chamber President Brad Dean said from the number of inquiries it “looks to be a pretty busy week.”

Dean said his office is fielding calls letting potential visitors know that there are some closures but with sunshine expected to return, the beach is “up and running.”

“We are urging people to take care getting here,” Dean said. “But once they are here their problems will be few and far between.”

The chamber, along with Horry County officials, is urging travelers to visit Department of Transportation websites to get updated information on road conditions.

We had planned this trip and we were not stopping.”

tourist Joyce Rakes Boggs

“They need to evaluate the different road options and take into consideration closures,” Dean said. He said the chamber has been working with a number of groups that had meetings or conferences planned, working to relocate their activities if they were scheduled for outdoors.

“We had a large group of Brazilian media here this week and they’ve gotten to see Myrtle Beach indoors more than planned,” he said. “The good news is they also spent more time in Myrtle Beach than they had planned.”

Dean said calls coming in to the chamber are mostly from people trying to decide whether to come or to cancel.

“We’ve been telling visitors all day, as long as you can get here, you’re going to have a great time. However, the challenge is getting here. They may want to push their travel out a day or two and look for alternate routes,” he said.

Whether to come or cancel is the question nagging a group of 45 women scheduled to attend a Pisgah Seventh-Day Adventist Church retreat/vacation. Gloria Dorsey said her group has traveled from just outside Washington, D.C., for the last 15 years to hold their retreat at Island Vista Resort in Myrtle Beach.

Late Monday, the group’s leadership decided to brave the conditions and head for the beach, leaving on Wednesday or Thursday.

“The resort says they are in good shape but when you are in leadership you don’t breathe until everyone is back home safely,” Dorsey said. She said that while some of the women fly into town, most drive separately coming at different times and from different directions.

Dorsey said she had been listening to Gov. Nikki Haley on TV and had been monitoring the DOT websites about flooding, downed trees and damaged bridges across South Carolina.

“The other scary thing,” she said, “is where is all that water from Columbia going when it has to move downstream toward the ocean.”

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said while the county has “boots on the ground” checking all the roads, the best advice they can offer is to visit DOT websites for the routes in each state that people plan to take.

“They may need to cross check websites to see what roads have been impacted,” she said.

Angela Nicholas can be reached at aknicholas28@gmail.com.

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