Vacation plans also in Irene's projected path

Some vacationers with plans to head to the Myrtle Beach area this weekend are paying close attention to Hurricane Irene.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce took about 30 calls during its first two hours of business Tuesday from potential visitors wondering whether they needed to cancel their reservations because of Irene, which is expected to gain strength and possibly hit the Carolinas this weekend as a powerful Category 3 or 4 hurricane. Still, forecasters emphasize that the storm’s track, which has been trending east for the past day, could shift in the coming days and end up going somewhere else.

Chamber call center workers are telling callers to monitor the storm and check with their hotel or lodging provider about its cancellation policy, chamber spokeswoman Nora Hembree said.

“We are telling them that it is certainly too early to tell [where the storm will go],” she said.

None of the 30 callers said they had canceled their plans yet.

“It’s the waiting game,” Hembree said.

The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce received about 10 calls Tuesday morning from folks asking about Irene, spokeswoman Jennifer Prince said. The chamber urged callers to check the cancellation policy at their hotels.

Occupancy in Horry County this week was expected to be about 78 percent, slightly lower than recent weeks as the summer season winds down with children returning to school. Though she hates to see a storm out there, Hembree said at least this one wasn't falling on the usually busy Labor Day holiday weekend.

"It's certainly good that it's not next weekend," she said.

Follow this story at