Alabama still on long road to recovery from Hurricane Sally
Alabama’s beaches have reopened, but the state’s coast has barely fully recovered from the effects of Hurricane Sally in the past month.
Visitors still have limited options to get in the sand as so many boardwalks and beach entry points have been damaged and residents of hard-hit Baldwin County are complaining about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response.
Both federal and local officials ask for patience as they recover.
Grant Brown, a city spokesman for Gulf Shores, said the damage was “far worse than our original thoughts,” and there is still much to be done.
“This is not the best time to get to the Gulf Shores beaches,” he told al.com. “The rights of way along the roads are covered in rubble and other stuff, and it’s just not the same experience. The beaches are ok but when you look at the south side of the dunes and the loss of sand it’s pretty amazing. “
Sally landed on the Gulf Coast on September 16, hitting the coast with violent winds and up to 30 inches of rain. Officials said the damage in places was worse than from Hurricane Ivan, which landed a direct hit on the same area in 2004.
Storm victims like Terry Boffman have been waiting in line at FEMA reception centers to ask why their claims have already been denied. Boffman told WPMI-TV that he has no insurance and that his mobile home may not be habitable due to damage. He doesn’t understand why FEMA isn’t helping.
“Mold is already growing in my house. We closed the bedroom that the mold is in and my wife and I now live in our living room, ”Boffman said.
FEMA spokesman Ruben Brown said many denials are based on lack of information or incomplete insurance claims, and applicants can appeal initial denials of aid.
“Some people read the letter. They threw it aside. They say, “What’s the use, I’m not going to continue this process because I won’t get any help.” That’s the wrong answer, ”said Brown.
Hundreds of hotel rooms and condominiums in Gulf Shores and neighboring Orange Beach were rented this weekend, and visitors can access the beach from private areas, according to official sources. However, the cleanup and rebuilding will continue as public access points.
Grant Brown, the Gulf Shores spokesman, said the city had removed 80,000 cubic feet of debris since the storm but still had 450,000 cubic feet to move. Brown said he was confident that some public beach access areas could reopen by next weekend.
“I think we’ll go a lot further by next week,” he said.