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Hurricane to have little impact on Pike County

As Hurricane Florence slowly made it’s way toward the Carolinas Thursday, it was already clear that the storm would not significantly impact Pike County weather in any way.

But it became apparent that the secondary effects of the storm, including the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by mandatory evacuations, were also limited locally.

This time last year, Hurricane Irma flooded Troy with evacuees seeking shelter in any hotel that still had availability left.

“They were booked all the way up to Prattville,” said Fred Whiting, general manager of the Courtyard Marriott in Troy. Whiting still remembers the hotel being booked solid by Irma evacuees in 2017.

With this storm hitting the Carolinas instead of Florida, Whiting said Florence has probably caused more cancellations than reservations.

“People might have a flight cancelled or they just don’t want to drive through the storms or the traffic,” Whiting said.

Whiting said hotel administration did not expect this storm to make much difference on their business.

“If they put out an advisory in a certain area we prepare,” Whiting said. “But this one looked a little bit too far away to really affect us.”

Whiting did get one reservation for Friday from a potential evacuee, but he said even that reservation is up in the air right now.

Just across the parking lot, Hampton Inn officials said one or two evacuees may have come in to stay, but that’s it. An employee at Econo Lodge said one evacuee had come by to compare rates at Troy hotels before picking a room, but didn’t know where he would be staying.

Despite the low number of refugees, Richard Dunn of Heart of Dixie Trail Ride decided to open RV spots for anybody that needed them.

“We’ve always tried to help in the past with storms that come up through Florida and the east coast,” Dunn said. “We just try to help anywhere we can.”

Dunn said the grounds are equipped to even house goats and horses if need be for travellers that fled the storm with animal companions.

Troy senior Bailey Adkins of South Carolina said her family is too far removed from the beach to have any major concerns, but said they were having to take precautions for the storm.

“I’m actually from Anderson about 25 minutes from Clemson, so I’m a little bit removed; we’re not close to the coast at all,” Adkins said. “My family did not have to evacuate. They went and filled up their gas tanks yesterday though in case prices soar, filled up propane tanks in case they needed it for the generators and stocked up on groceries. They’ll probably just get rain, maybe tornadoes, but probably not.”

Florence has been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 90 mph.

As of 10 p.m. Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said Florence was lashing the North Carolina coast with hurricane-force winds and a life-threatening storm surge. It says the threat of freshwater flooding will increase in coming hours and days from the storm’s heavy rains.

The Miami-based center said in the 10 p.m. update Thursday that the storm’s eye was about 50 miles south of Morehead City, North Carolina. The core was also about 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. The storm was moving to the northwest at 6 mph. Forecasters say the center of Florence is expected to move inland between Friday and Saturday.

So far, utilities have reported 80,000 customers without power because of Florence.

A group of Troy linemen is ready and waiting to assist utility repairs in the areas hit hardest by Florence.