Hurricane Matthew laces into Myrtle Beach area; tornado damages homes

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Hurricane Matthew laced into the Myrtle Beach area Saturday afternoon, destroying a pier, flooding streets, forcing hundreds into shelters and triggering a tornado that damaged homes.

A tornado that began swirling offshore in North Myrtle Beach as a water spout touched down in North Myrtle Beach between 18th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard Saturday morning.

A preliminary report showed one house lost its roof, one home suffered roof damage, and a couple of others sustained some minor siding loss, according to Pat Dowling, North Myrtle Beach city spokesman.

The roof was laying partly on top of the owner’s boat in his front yard, according to the report. A couple of light poles may also be down as a result of the storm, Dowling said.

Some information indicated the tornado lifted up and touched down again around 11th Avenue North, but Dowling said he had not received a confirmation on that.

Downed trees made a path through Hillside Drive with some fencing knocked down. It also appears The Surf Golf and Beach Club at 1701 Springland Lane may have suffered tornado damage as well.

No injuries have been reported.

Meanwhile, the South Carolina Highway Patrol reported roadway flooding and traffic light issues from Hurricane Matthew in Horry County on Saturday.

Total rainfall predictions are still forecast to be close to 15 inches will amounts lesser farther inland, but still in the 13-inch range for most of Horry County.

The center of Matthew is expected to continue its trek northeast up the coast at about 12 mph Saturday, as it passed by the Myrtle Beach coast around 1:30 p.m. around the same time as high tide.

Pier destroyed

Myrtle Beach city officials said that storm surge from Hurricane Matthew destroyed the Springmaid Pier, leaving only 100 feet standing of the structure.

What was the longest pier on the Grand Strand at 1,060 feet, the popular fishing spot washed away in the heavy surf on Saturday.

A chaotic, weather-beaten boards were stacked on the beach where the pier once stood.

Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach city spokesman, said the pier is owned by Doubletree by Hilton, not the city, and it would be up to the company to either make repairs or dismantle the remains.

Seeking shelter

Hurricane Matthew’s effects kicked into high gear for the Grand Strand by early afternoon.

As of noon Saturday, there were 942 people in shelters, according to Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokeswoman.

There were also multiple reports of downed trees. Several power lines were knocked down when a large oak tree was reportedly down at 16th Avenue and Sessions Street in Conway, Bourcier said, but there was no reported structural damage after the incident.

Also, all flights at the Myrtle Beach International Airport had been cancelled for the day, Bourcier said. Most flights will resume after 10 a.m. Sunday, and travelers are advised to check with their airline for current flight status.

So far 55 roads were closed or impassable by noon Saturday as the storm raged on, Bourcier said, and U.S. 501 was closed at S.C. 22 and at Millpond Road.

The Surfside Beach pier suffered substantial damage, reports showed. Surfside Beach officials shut down all roads from Dogwood Drive to the ocean.

Sporadic power outages continue to plague the county as more than 10,000 reportedly suffered power outages.

Bourcier urged citizens to stay off the road, and reminded motorists they should never drive around barricades, barrels, and/or road closure signs. Citizens should also never drive through standing water.

Photo by Jason Lee “A girl battles wind as she walks on the beach early Saturday morning in Cherry Grove as Hurricane Matthew made its way to the area”

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Kyrie Wagner

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