FLORENCE, S.C. – Many South Carolinians heeded Gov. Henry McMaster’s declaration of a mandatory evacuation of coastal areas of South Carolina on Monday.

Mary Hofmeister of Mount Pleasant, near Charleston, left her home Monday and headed to Florence, where she rode out the storm at a hotel.

She said this is not her first hurricane. She has lived in the Charleston area for 61 years and has weathered a few hurricanes.

“I left because I was afraid of the hurricane, and the governor issued a mandatory evacuation of the area where I live,” she said.

She said a Category 5 hurricane is something they respect in the Charleston area, especially those who experienced Hurricane Hugo and other major storms since.

“During Hugo I had 64 trees come down in my yard, two on the house and one on my car,” she said.” “I also had a tree fall on my car in Hartsville, where I went to get away from Hugo.”

Kasey Miller was staying at the Holiday Inn Express near the Florence Center. He said on Thursday morning that he was there while traveling for work. He works for C.H. Engineering.

Big John Calcutt Jr. was staying in the same hotel.

“I arrived on Wednesday,” he said.

Originally from Pamplico, Calcutt said he entered the U.S. Marine Corps, and when he got out, he and his wife moved to Florence. He lived here for about 40 years before retiring to Surfside Beach approximately five years ago. So naturally, Florence is where he came to get out of harm’s way.

“I hope we don’t get any damage,” he said. “But the Lord will decide that.”

Pete Boyd said he was in the process of transplanting from New York to Myrtle Beach when Hurricane Dorian started its trek up the coastline.

He said they have owned a condo at the beach for roughly seven years but were supposed to close on their house this week.

“I am more worried about the condo than the house,” he said. “I haven’t signed on it yet.”

His condo is about a half a mile from the beach.

Jill Whisnant of James Island evacuated to Florence on Wednesday with her two children and their dog. Whisnant said her husband, Matt, already had to be in Florence for his job, and they joined him.

“He is a medical rep,” she said. He had a case at a local hospital. She said his case in Charleston for today was canceled.

“We almost waited it out,” she said. “But we have tons of trees in our yard. It was not safe to chance it.”

She said they moved to James Island from East Tennessee.

Her son, Jackson, 10, was delighted to be out of school today.

“It’s a miracle,” he said.

He and his sibling, Carson, 11, were planning to enjoy the indoor heated pool at the Holiday Inn Express on Thursday.

“We chose this hotel for its indoor pool,” Whisnant said. “We knew the rain was coming.”

She said that before they left James Island, they were busy securing their house and everything outdoors.

“It was raining when we left Charleston,” she said.

Since leaving, she got word from neighbors that the power was out Thursday morning on James Island.

She said they most likely will head to Charlotte.

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