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With last week’s arrival of fall, some Charlotteans might be planning one final trip to the beach — but wondering how to get there with many roads still underwater due to Hurricane Florence.
The good news is that portions the Carolinas’ coasts can be reached from Charlotte, though it will probably take longer than usual to get to some spots. And some highly popular areas, like Myrtle Beach, might be inaccessible with floodwaters expected to continue rising this week.
In North Carolina, many roads are still closed throughout the state, N.C. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jen Thompson said. As of Monday, about 425 roads remained impacted by the storm, including some in Charlotte-area counties like Anson and Stanly, she said.
Also Monday, the department was announcing the reopening of key routes.
One of those was Interstate 40 from N.C. 41 (Exit 385) to Wilmington, the department said in a tweet. Two eastbound lanes were open and one westbound lane was open, it said.
And U.S. 70 between Interstate 95 and the coast was open with one lane closed in each direction in Kinston, the department said. U.S. 74 from I-95 to Wilmington was also opened, it said.
But the department was advising motorists to avoid unnecessary travel in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne counties. The nine make up a large portion of eastern North Carolina.
“Travel to the coast will still be time-consuming because we still have some major roadways that are under the impact of the hurricane,” Thompson said.
In South Carolina, U.S. 17 North out of Georgetown could flood this week where it crosses Winyah Bay as floodwaters move downstream toward the Atlantic Ocean, The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reported Sunday. The highway was one of the remaining routes allowing access to Myrtle Beach.
The Myrtle Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website on Monday warned tourists that driving into the area will be very difficult over the next week or two. Instead, it recommended flying in.
“The floodwaters are still rising and the road conditions are fluid,” said Julie Ellis, spokeswoman for the bureau. “Myrtle Beach looks great, but getting here cannot be guaranteed safely at this time.”
U.S. 501, another key route from North Carolina directly to Myrtle Beach, was operating with just one southbound lane and one northbound lane about a dozen miles outside of Myrtle Beach, the South Carolina Department of Transportation said on its website. The highway, which cuts down the center of North Carolina, was expected to remain partially closed because of flood barriers through Saturday, the department said.
Here are some routes to coastal areas that appeared accessible as of Monday, according to information available on the N.C. and S.C. transportation departments’ websites as of Monday. But as flood conditions change this week, and roads reopen or close, access could change.
From Charlotte to Wilmington
Take U.S. 74 East. In Wilmington, take U.S. Route 17 Business.
To Morehead City
Take Interstate 85 North to Interstate 40 East in McLeansville. In Garner, take U.S. 70 East to Morehead City.
To New Bern
Take Interstate 85 North to Interstate 40 East in McLeansville. In Garner, take U.S. 70 East toward New Bern.
In New Bern, take U.S. 17.
To Myrtle Beach
According to the Horry County Department of Airports, Myrtle Beach International Airport is open and operational, with all airlines serving the airport operating under normal flight schedules.
Grand Strand Airport, in north Myrtle Beach, and Conway-Horry County Airport, in Conway, are also open and accepting general aviation and charter aircraft, the airports department said.
Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts