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Hurricane Hits Popular US Beach Resort After Devastating Florida

Parts of the U.S. state of South Carolina are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Charley as gusting winds and heavy rains shut down beaches and businesses.

The powerful storm hit coastal areas of the state after plowing through Florida last week where it left several people dead, thousands homeless and caused billions of dollars in damage.

In the popular South Carolina resort of Myrtle Beach, the storm hit with winds gusting to more than 100 kilometers per hour. Heavy downpours forced residents and tourists to stay indoors. Beaches were deserted and the city looked like a ghost town.

"We had an evacuation order. [South Carolina] Governor Mark Sanford sent in state troopers to help local law enforcement guard businesses against looting," said Jimmy Anderson, a tourist center manager in Myrtle Beach.

Local residents caught their breath Monday after a pause before the real work of recovery from Charley began. Area businesses are trying to return to normal. "We lost a lot of business during the weekend," said a restaurant owner.

Weather conditions have been unusual for this time of year in the eastern United States. Temperatures were at an all-time low, reaching 15 degrees celsius in South Carolina, which meteorologists say is very unusual in August.

The storm knocked down power lines, but electricity crews worked overtime to restore power to Myrtle Beach and other coastal cities. Continuing heavy rains delayed local residents from picking up limbs and removing broken trees and debris hurled by gale-force winds.

The storm uprooted trees and blew off roofs of houses. Tree branches could be seen littering the streets. The storm also hammered a gas station on a main thoroughfare, blowing off its metal roof. No injuries were reported.

Scattered thunderstorms continue along the eastern seaboard, with some very gusty winds and heavy downpours. The ground is already saturated, forcing flash flood warnings.

The American Red Cross has issued an appeal for helping storm victims. "No amount is too small to help," the appeal says. "Your help is urgently needed."