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Carolinas brace for storm

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Coastal residents secured patio furniture, ferry operators completed evacuations on the Outer Banks, and officials passed out sandbags and offered car space in elevated garages Monday as Isaias marched northward, forecast to hit the Carolinas as a minimal hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned oceanside home dwellers to brace for storm surge up to 5 feet and up to 8 inches of rain in spots, as Isaias moves up the coast. The Carolinas weren’t the only states at risk.

“All those rains could produce flash flooding across portions of the eastern Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, and even in the northeast U.S.,” said Daniel Brown, senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center. A tropical storm warning extended all the way up to Maine, where flash flooding was possible in some areas on Wednesday.

Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) killed two people in the Caribbean and roughed up the Bahamas but remained at sea as it brushed past Florida over the weekend, providing some welcome relief to emergency managers who had to accommodate mask-wearing evacuees in storm shelters. The center of Isaias remained well offshore as it passed Georgia’s coast on Monday.

Authorities in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, ordered swimmers out of the water to avoid rough surf and strong rip currents. Still, many people were out enjoying the beach and walking their dogs under overcast skies.

On Pawleys Island, southwest of Myrtle Beach, Terrie Wilson Heffner moved outdoor furniture and potted plants and kept her TV tuned to weather reports. A coastal South Carolina resident since 1981, when Hurricane Hugo destroyed her parents’ home, Heffner said she doesn’t leave except for major storms.

“They don’t really scare me,” Heffner said, “but I have great respect for them.”

Shops and restaurants appeared quieter than usual for a summertime Monday in North Myrtle Beach, but locals blamed COVID-19 more than Isaias. No businesses were boarding up their windows, although some moved outside furniture inside.

Wayne Stanley and his family came to the city over the weekend from Julian, North Carolina. He’s never experienced a hurricane, but said he never considered canceling his family’s weeklong vacation either.

“I was pretty scared to start off with,” Stanley said Monday. “Then we thought maybe it’s not going to be that bad.”

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