Impending Hurricane Florence turns Myrtle Beach into ghost town

In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, photo Mercedes O'Neill, right, her 6-year-old daughter Sophie, her boyfriend Kelly Johnson, left and neighbor Shawn Dalton on ladder put plywood on the window of their home in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. O'Neill thought a long time about evacuating from Hurricane Florence but decided they couldn't afford it. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

South Carolina's most popular tourist destination is like a ghost town.

North Myrtle Beach was nearly empty Thursday as the first bands of heavy rain from Hurricane Florence approached.

A few locals briefly walked into the sand but were quickly sandblasted back by stiff winds.

One man tried to skimboard, but gave up after a few minutes as winds from the land cut down the waves. He called the ocean "Lake Myrtle" as he walked back to his car.

There was several hundred feet (meters) of sand between the dunes and ocean as a low tide approached around 5 p.m. Thursday. The sky occasionally spit a drop or two of rain, but the steady rain bands remained to the north.

A police officer sat nearby to talk to anyone who ventured too close to the surf.

The area called the Grand Strand attracts 18 million visitors a year. On Thursday, every restaurant, beachwear shop and mini golf course was closed.

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