• Hurricane Florence updates: Myrtle Beach beach business owners prepare for worst, hope for best

    By: Sarahbeth Ackerman , Kelly Healey , Steve Barrett

    Updated:

    Business owners in Myrtle Beach are preparing for the worst as Hurricane Florence nears the coastline. 

    Aquib Ahmad lives above the Indian restaurant he operates with his fathers. When they close shop on Wednesday night, he and his family will head more inland to a hotel. 

    He’s never experienced a hurricane and does not know what to expect. 

    “Honestly, I don't. People have told me, ‘Oh, it's going to be a doozy.’ But other than that, we'll see how it goes,” He said. “It is a little bit worrisome, we are boarding up all our windows and all that. All you can do is hope that he damage isn't too bad.”

    See the Latest: Florence's track

    Myrtle Beach residents are boarding up all the businesses around Ahmad's. He said some customers have made the decision not to leave as directed.

    “They've all been here through multiple hurricanes, so the ones that are still here say, ‘We've been through the other ones, so this one can't be that bad,’” said Ahmad.

    Deciding to stay 

    About a quarter mile from the ocean, residents John Pate and Ronnie Brown were not leaving Myrtle Beach or boarding up, but their mindset changed by Wednesday.

    “We woke up this morning and they said the storm is tracking now, possibly turning left and possibly hitting our area,” Pate said.

    As with a lot of major storms, hurricane preps all came together with help from neighbors, who helped each other board windows. 

    Tropics Update: Isaac, Helene, another storm forms in Gulf of Mexico

    Some residents will be heading to Florida.  

    “We're headed to Naples probably tomorrow morning early. But Ronnie is my neighbor cross the street. He's helping me out, he helped Marsha out here. We're just trying to pitch in with everybody,” said Pate.

    Up and down the beach most people have made the same decision. 

    Some stragglers remain, but businesses were ordered closed by police at 5 p.m. 

     Help from Florida 

    Power crews from Duke Energy are heading to the Carolinas Wednesday to help with recovery efforts as Hurricane Florence moves closer to the coastline.

    More than 1,000 crew members left the operations center in Winter Garden early Wednesday. The plan is for the Duke Energy operation personnel, including contractors, line workers, tree professionals, damage assessment and support personnel to be ready to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

     

    Read: 'Monster’ Hurricane Florence could stall near NC coast

     

    Utility crews from Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky will be in place to help restore power.

     

    “We want to make sure we are providing resource to others, like they did for us in Hurricane Irma, and it is basically our turn to return the favor,” Duke Energy representative Ana Gibbs said.

     

    Homeless amid a hurricane

     

    Homer Acevedo, who is homeless in Myrtle Beach, was seen wandering the city's empty streets Wednesday evening.

    "I really don't have a contingency plan. I really don't," he said. "I'm just going to walk around aimlessly like i'm doing right now."

    The city's tourist strip was eerily quiet. Police are patrolling the streets as all businesses were ordered to close at 5 p.m.

    Acevedo said he worries more about being alone with no access to the kindness of stranger than the storm itself.

    "Food is always there," he said. "If you ask a person, there is (an opportunity for to get fed). But if there's nobody around for the next 48 to 72 hours? It's going to suck."

    Tropics Update: Isaac, Helene, another storm forms in Gulf of Mexico

     

    Next Up: