Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores Post Sally

Alabama has been lucky enough to have not seen hurricane damage since Ivan touched down in 2004. Unfortunately, the state’s luck couldn’t last forever and officially ran out with the touchdown of Hurricane Sally in September 2020. 

Sally made a huge impact throughout Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, and more than a month later, recovery efforts are still well underway. But luckily, the Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores area is incredibly resilient and is holding hope for a future that’s brighter than ever. 

Storm Damage

Hurricane Sally originated on September 11 and first made landfall near Miami, Florida. The storm slowly intensified and became a hurricane on September 14. It reached Category 2 status that evening, dipped back into a Category 1, then resolidified as a Category 2 on September 16. On this dally, Sally reached peak intensity. Hurricane Sally made landfall on the Gulf Shores area on September 16 when the storm was at its most intense. Sustained winds reached speeds of 105 miles per hour. 

hurricane damage - lone building

Where Did Sally Hit Hardest?

Sally was a particularly slow-moving hurricane, which caused the section of land between Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, to see continuous flooding and damage. Widespread wind damage was prevalent all throughout the area, and more than 20 inches of rainfall were recorded. In addition to the damage from Hurricane Sally, the area also encountered several tornadoes during the same time period. 

Alabama was struck particularly hard by Hurricane Sally. Dauphin Island was the first to see its impact with storm surge flooding beginning on September 14. While sustained winds got up to 105 mph, Fort Morgan saw faster gusts as high as 121 miles per hour. 

Gulf Shores was impacted more than almost any other area. The landfall point in Gulf Shores suffered major structural damage. One pier in Gulf Shores, the Gulf State Park Pier, had recently undergone a $2.4 million renovation after damages from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and a grand reopening celebration had been planned for September 16. Of course, those plans were canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sally, and the pier, unfortunately, suffered even more damage with this 2020 storm. 

storm debris and damage

Fort Morgan is On the Road to Recovery

While it’s bound to take a while for the area to completely recover, the citizens of Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores have already begun to rebuild. Less than one week after Hurricane Sally brutalized the coast, 100% of structures that could receive power had recovered their electricity. 

Joe Emmerson, president of the Fort Morgan Civic Association, estimated that 90% of Fort Morgan’s homes were damaged. But the community has always supported each other, and this tradition isn’t stopping now. Though many restaurants were forced to close in the days surrounding the storm, locals were inviting people into their homes for a hot meal. 

Fort Morgan resident Adam Williams had this to say: “The sheriffs that ride by, the linemen that ride by, anybody that rides by, any of the construction workers… You know, we stop and, ‘Hey, do you want water? Do you need food?’ Because all the restaurants are closed down here.” Williams and his wife fed dozens of people every night in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

The first thing to reopen after Sally hit was the beaches. On October 2 at 6 a.m., beaches in Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach reopened to the public. City facilities throughout Gulf Shores were reopened in early October as well, including City Hall, the library, the Gulf Shores Museum, the skate park, the dog park, and the Bodenhamer Recreation Center. 

Recovery efforts have continued throughout the month of October, and as of October 26, the city of Orange Beach reported that at least 90% of the debris removal in the city was complete, totaling over 431,000 cubic yards of debris.

Support Tourism in Southern Alabama

Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Orange Beach are well on their way to returning to the vibrant and exciting destinations we know them to be. If you’re planning a Fort Morgan vacation soon, now would be the perfect time to visit! While some facilities and attractions remain closed due to storm damage, there are many establishments that are still up and running and would appreciate your patronage more than you may realize. 

The information provided below is current as of October 27, 2020. If you do visit the Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan area, please be aware that face masks are mandatory in the state of Alabama until at least Sunday, November 8, 2020, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wharf in Orange Beach has long been a popular tourist attraction, and they are operating as usual. There’s tons to see and do at The Wharf, so you can spend the entire day exploring the area and enjoying the view of the water. This is the perfect place to do your shopping at local establishments like A Coastal Zen, Bungalows, The Bag Lady, and Ocean Eddie’s. You can also grab a quick drink at The Southern Grind Coffee House or sit down for a meal at restaurants like YoHo Rum and Tacos. 

the wharf ferris wheel

But that’s not all! The Wharf is your all-in-one entertainment destination. You can let out your competitive side with a game at The Wharf Mini Golf or try to get free at Breakout Orange Beach. Civil Axe Throwing is great for getting some exercise while trying to hit the bullseye, or you can relax with a movie at the AMC Theater. The possibilities are endless!

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is the perfect place for nature lovers, and even though parts of the park remain closed, you can still take advantage of some incredible trails. Sections of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail remain open for locals and visitors to enjoy. These areas include Rattlesnake Ridge, Rosemary Dunes, Cotton Bayou, and part of Catman Trail. While you’re hiking and exploring the wonderful nature, be cautious for wildlife that may have been displaced because of the storm.

orange beach wharf road

While you’re in town, you can still indulge in a fun meal with some of the freshest local seafood! The Flora-Bama Lounge in Perdido Key is still open and serving crowds with a smile. Here, you’ll have your pick of incredible seafood selections like oysters and shrimp, as well as land options like burgers and chicken sandwiches. Come mingle with the locals and have a good laugh while supporting one of the area’s most well-loved businesses.

For a complete list of status updates for businesses and landmarks in the area, please visit this link.

Plenty of Vacation Rentals are Still Available

While it might seem like a grim period, right now is actually a great time to visit Fort Morgan! Many of the local businesses are still open and happy to serve customers, and you’ll have fewer crowds to deal with than what you would encounter in the regular season. Plus, we still have many vacation rentals still available, including beachfront homes and luxury rentals big enough for a family gathering.

Plan Your Next Visit

Many rentals throughout the area are now available at unbelievable rates, making it easier than ever to plan your Alabama getaway. Contact us today to learn more about our Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan vacation rentals!