CHARLESTON, S.C. — Hurricane Ian brought flooding and power outages to swaths of the South Carolina shore as it made landfall Friday afternoon, and forecasters warned of the likelihood of later powerful winds and storm surges, even as Ian lost hurricane strength.
Still, early reports suggested a far less devastating impact than Florida suffered from the storm’s initial impact.
“There is damage, but we will dig out of this as we always do,” said Mark Stevens, director of tourism for Georgetown County, which includes the area where Ian made landfall. “We’re accustomed to hurricane season and what water can bring.”
Some of the most significant impacts were in Pawleys Island, a town on a barrier island just off Georgetown that has long experience with powerful storms.
Part of the town’s pier had collapsed in the storm and was “floating south” in the Atlantic, and “the flooding has been catastrophic,” its police department said on Twitter. But Mr. Stevens said that neither the flooding nor the pier collapse were unusual for Pawleys Island.
Brandon Ellis, director of emergency services for Georgetown County, said that at least half a dozen people had to be rescued from the floodwaters by emergency personnel. Images posted to social media showed roads and homes inundated with water several feet deep.
Jamie Rhome, the acting director of the National Hurricane Center, said in a briefing on Friday afternoon that tropical-storm-force winds were expected along the coast of the Carolinas through early Saturday, bringing the possibility of dangerous storm surge.
“Things are going to go downhill really quickly in the next few hours,” he said of the area, adding that there was still potential for heavy rains inland, downed trees and a “high risk of flooding.”
But some took hope from the relative mildness of Ian’s arrival. Mr. Stevens said that heavy rains Friday morning had ceased after the hurricane made landfall, though flooding and power outages still needed to be rectified. He monitored the situation from his home in Litchfield-by-the-Sea, a few miles from Pawleys Island, as county employees were asked not to commute to work because of the storm.
Chicora Pressley, who works at the front desk at the Hampton Inn in Georgetown, said that some of the waterside hotel’s rooms lost power around 2:30 p.m., shortly after the storm made landfall. She and her colleagues were busy moving guests to rooms that still had electricity.
When Ms. Pressley arrived at the hotel to start her afternoon shift, winds were whipping the trees around, she said. “I can still hear the wind from inside,” she said.
Nearby in Charleston, residents on Friday afternoon were picking up the pieces after several hours of intense wind and rain. Tree branches were scattered along downtown streets and some roads were still flooded, but buildings seemed to have avoided damage. Police officers who had been sheltering in place at their stations during the storm had returned to regular service.
The famous shores of Myrtle Beach, about 90 miles north of Charleston, sustained “significant damage” Friday afternoon and at least three piers washed away, but the city was feeling mostly thankful the hurricane had not been more severe, Mayor Brenda Bethune said.
Thrashing waves and volleys of rain lashed the city earlier, said Ms. Bethune, who lives across the street from the beach. “I could see the waves and the water coming up — it was very intense.”
She said that people had evacuated from a hotel whose roof blew off, and that another spate of wind and rain was expected within a few hours.
People stuck in their cars or in buildings surrounded by water needed to be rescued. The city had received multiple reports of downed power lines and cars stuck in the floodwaters, and there were also reports that strong winds had damaged some structures on the waterfront, said Travis Glatki, the manager of the city’s emergency management division. No fatalities or injuries had been reported, he said.
At the Beverley Beach House, a 25-room oceanfront hotel in Myrtle Beach, Corey Shaw, the general manager, said that he could see the ocean cresting up over the dunes, and that the building’s roof had been damaged. “We’ll just mop it up in the morning,” he said, “and get back to business as usual.”