NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW)-An internet article continues to get a lot of attention. It claims a young girl went into the ocean in North Myrtle Beach last Thursday and was in the emergency room Friday from contaminated water.
This time of year the water is tested on a weekly basis. We reached out to DHEC today and they told us the levels are safe and well below what is deemed dangerous. While the levels appear to be fine, this post has created a headache for many involved with tourism.
The Grand Strand has been crawling with tourists since mid-June and it’s only going to get busier if people still want to come to our beaches. A post online has raised a lot of questions.
“We’ve received numerous calls, most of them out of concern,” said George DuRant the VP of tourism development.
DuRant says he’s doing all he can to get the message out that the water is safe.
“Thankfully we have science on our side both Coastal Carolina and DHEC test our waters on a weekly basis and we find that again we don’t reach any of the thresholds for safety.”
But with a post that has more than 40, 000 shares, DuRant says that can be difficult.
“Our city manager here, the city of North Myrtle Beach has reached out to the family and in reaching out to the family found that this child may have had an illness lately that may have contributed to this.”
We reached out to the largest rental company on the Grand Strand to see if the post hurt business.
Kyle Thomas, the guest service manager for Elliott said he’s received calls from concerned guests. His concern though is what he calls “irresponsible journalism.”
“It is something that can impact you or your friends or your peers livelihoods, just to get a few more clicks on the internet, I don’t think they understand the reach it could possibly have.”
Myrtle Beach had a similar scare a few months back after a posting on the same website and spent thousands of dollars on an ad-campaign to reassure locals and tourists that the water was safe.
DuRant with the chamber of North Myrtle Beach says that’s not a real option in this case.
“We don’t have the resources to wage a huge paid campaign to address issues like this. Social media can be our friend, PR can be our friend and good ole fashioned customer service can be our friend.”
Thomas said he’ll use his best judgement.
“I have two young kids that I would have no problem swimming in there, the beach is fantastic it’s like bathwater right now so I would say come down”
We reached out to David Hucks, the man who wrote the post on myrtlebeachsc.com. He said, “it would be nice to see clean water all time. Clean beaches are important.”
We asked him about the water quality testing and told him what the numbers said. He said that the numbers were tested on Tuesday when this incident happened on Thursday and the water quality levels could have changed in that time.