Tropical Storm Hanna blew ashore over tourist beaches on the North-South Carolina border early on Sept. 6 at the start of a projected dash up the Eastern Seaboard.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Hanna’s center came on land at about 3:20 a.m. The storm had winds near 70 mph just short of hurricane strength, before it rolled ashore but was expected to weaken after moving over land.
Emergency officials were already looking past Hanna to powerful Hurricane Ike, several hundred miles out in the Atlantic. Ike is much stronger than Hanna and could be approaching southern Florida by Sept. 8 as Hanna spins away from Canada over the North Atlantic.
“All I’ve heard is wind, wind and more wind,” said Dylan Oslzewski, 19, working an overnight shift at a convenience store in Shallotte, North Carolina, about 15 miles north of the state line with South Carolina. Oslzewski said he had only seen four customers compared to 30 or 40 on a normal weekend night.
Hanna started drenching the Carolina coast Sept. 5, with streets in some spots flooding by late afternoon as the leading edges of the storm approached land.
By early Sept. 6, the wind howled as gusts neared 50 mph and rain came in blinding bursts in Myrtle Beach. The lights flickered on and off several times along some beachfront blocks and the wind was so strong that it made waves in hotel pools.
Police in other parts of the 50-mile beach called the Grand Strand chased people out of the surf.
Emergency officials urged evacuations in only a few spots in the Carolinas and about 400 people went to shelters in both states. Forecasters had said there was only a small chance of Hanna becoming a hurricane, and most people simply planned to stay off the roads until the storm passed.
The storm has been blamed for disastrous flooding and more than 100 deaths in Haiti.
A hurricane watch was in effect from near South Santee River, South Carolina, about 45 miles north of Charleston, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina near the Virginia line.
Up to 7 inches of rain were expected in the Carolinas.
Federal emergency officials expected Hanna to move quickly, but said they had supplies in place and emergency crews ready to respond.
For all the talk of Hanna, there was more about Ike, which could become the fiercest storm to strike South Florida since Andrew, which did more than $26 billion in damage and was blamed for 65 deaths from wind and flooding, along with car crashes and other storm-related accidents.
Federal emergency officials said they were positioning supplies, search and rescue crews, communications equipment and medical teams in Florida and along the Gulf Coast — a task complicated by Ike’s changing path. Tourists in the Keys were ordered to leave beginning Sept. 6.
Associated Press writers along the U.S. East Coast contributed to this report.