10.06.2016

Ocean Lakes shut down Thursday afternoon, will stay closed until after Hurricane Matthew passes

Ocean Lakes Family Campground will close at 2 p.m. Thursday as the governor-ordered evacuation of the oceanfront in Horry County kicks into gear with Hurricane Matthew approaching the S.C. coast.

Ocean Lakes will stay closed Friday and Saturday, when the worst of Hurricane Matthew is expected to affect the Myrtle Beach area.

The governor-ordered evacuation of properties east of U.S. 17 Business-Kings Highway, known as Zone A, will start at noon Thursday, Gov. Nikki Haley said during a news conference Thursday morning. About 200,000 residents in Horry and Georgetown counties are expected to evacuate. Haley urged residents not to wait any longer and leave.

“We want everybody to take this seriously,” Haley said.

No lane reversals are planned in Horry County, though officials said they are ready to shift U.S. 501 if needed.

About 300 National Guard are in Horry County ready to help with the evacuation and with other needs, said Randy Webster, Horry County's Emergency Management Director.

Webster said during a news conference about noon Thursday that residents in Zone A need to leave now.

"It's time to go," Webster said. "We do not need people to be there when this happens."

Ocean Lakes was cleared out Thursday morning.
Most of Ocean Lakes already had cleared out by Thursday morning. Security went door to door Tuesday urging guests to leave after Haley announced the planned evacuation.

Many parts of the park – including Golf Cars, Camptown Center, the RV Center and the bathhouses – closed Wednesday afternoon and will stay closed until after the storm.

No guests will be allowed to check in until after the storm, and the Ocean Lakes main entrances will be partially blocked starting at 2 p.m. Thursday. Security will stay on site and the Main Gate will be manned.

“We want to stress to everyone that we are under an evacuation order,” said Lance Thompson, Ocean Lakes’ General Manager and Vice President.

Power already has been shut off to some of the campsites closest to the beach that are most prone to flooding, including sites in H, HH, I and some of the 2000 sections. We do not have control over the power at the houses/annual lease sites; Santee Cooper, our local power provider, handles power there and would be the one to decide whether to shut it off if the storm warrants it.

The coast should brace for heavy rain, flooding, strong storm surge and high winds, according to the forecast Thursday morning from the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C. Flooding and power outages are likely.

The beach at Ocean Lakes on Thursday morning.
The coast could get more than 10 inches of rain and wind gusts near 60 mph.

Rain will start Friday, with the greatest impact from Matthew expected Saturday and Saturday night. The coast should brace for wind that could knock out power, damage roofs and siding and down trees, especially where the soil already is saturated.

There’s also a high chance for flooding, with the greatest risk Saturday and Saturday evening. Storm surge of 4 to 6 feet above ground is expected.

Residents should stay alert because Matthew’s projected path – which has shifted often in recent days – could quickly change, forecasters said.

“Do not let your guard down as any adjustment to the west would support greater impacts,” forecaster Steven Pfaff of the National Weather Service said in a briefing Thursday morning.

After the storm passes, our team will assess any damage in the campground and determine when it will reopen.

“We will be back open as soon as possible,” Thompson said.

We will keep you updated on our reopening plans on our Facebook page and website, OceanLakes.com. 

Guests who have reservations arriving Sunday should wait for word on when the campground will reopen before arriving. Also note, residents who have evacuated likely will be returning to the area Sunday, so traffic could be more congested than usual headed into the beach.

Please continue to check on the latest forecasts for the storm, because any slight shifts can change the impacts on the coast.

"This is going go zig zag the entire time," Haley said during a news conference Wednesday evening. "We are taking it day by day."

Here are a few other reminders:

EVACUATION | The governor-ordered evacuation of the oceanfront area east of U.S. 17 Business-Kings Highway in Horry and Georgetown counties is set to start at noon Thursday.

Camping guests should stop in the Main Office as they depart.
Guests will receive a refund or may apply the balance to another reservation if they choose to depart prior to their scheduled departure date. 

If you choose to depart (prior to you scheduled departure date) due to a storm after the Main Office has closed for the night, make sure you turn your car pass in to the Main Gate and let them know it is an early departure. (The car pass will help us know the date to use for your refund.) The Main Office is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

TRAFFIC | No lane reversals for the evacuation are planned in Horry County; though officials say they will be ready to shift U.S. 501 if needed.
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RESERVATIONS | You can modify or change your reservation at any time. Ocean Lakes is waiving the usual fee. Call 1-800-722-1451 and one of our teammates will help you. Our reservations line is extremely busy, so please be patient. If you get on hold, do not hang up – a teammate will connect with you shortly.

CAMPER STORAGE | We will not pull any more campers from storage after NOON THURSDAY. If you choose to remove your camper from storage, call 1-800-722-1451 to make arrangements. It’s your call whether to remove it from storage based on the latest forecast and the insurance you carry on your RV. Our team monitors the storage lots through the storm and takes any action we can, but there’s just no way of knowing what this storm could do.

ANNUAL LEASE SITE OWNERS | If they feel it is necessary, homeowners can board up their windows and doors; there are no restrictions. Annual lease site holders will be allowed back in the campground once it reopens after the storm passes.

CAMPTOWN CENTER, GOLF CARS | Our bathhouses, Golf Car facility, RV Center and Camptown Center that includes Sandy Mart, Meet n Eat and Soapy Suds laundry shut down at 3 p.m. Wednesday and will stay closed until the storm passes.

POOLS | Our pools will stay closed until further notice.

CHURCH | The Ocean Lakes church service Sunday is canceled.

UPDATES | Closely watch the forecasts. The storm can quickly change paths. We will continue to post updates on Facebook and our website, OceanLakes.com.

Here are a few more websites that post the latest storm information:

Horry County Hurricane Information Center (HorryCounty.org)
South Carolina Emergency Management Division (scemd.org)
NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.gov)
American Red Cross (RedCross.org)
The Sun News (MyrtleBeachOnline.com)
WPDE-TV 15 (wpde.com) – local TV broadcaster
WBTW-TV 13 (wbtw.com) – local TV broadcaster

WMBF-TV 10 (wmbfnews.com) – local TV broadcaster