“It’s one thing to sit in Montgomery and watch national news or the state news and see the pictures, but it’s a whole eye-opener to see the damage with your own eyes and the damage is huge and our people are hurting,” Ivey said.
“Y’all, we knew that Hurricane Sally had the potential to be a devastating storm, but, y’all, it’s really bad,” Ivey told those gathered at Gulf State Park. “I’m sure it could be worse. But what I’ve seen this morning in the flyover of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and Fort Morgan, it’s really, really bad.”
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, who represents the area, praised the level of pre-hurricane season planning and pre-Hurricane Sally planning as “extraordinary” and said that has been demonstrated in the days since the storm hit.
Byrne said he has had contact with the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help secure resources to help in the state’s recovery. Byrne said he expects FEMA Director Peter Gaynor and possibly President Donald Trump to visit the Alabama Gulf Coast to view the devastation and offer assistance.
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones told those at Dauphin Island that he was getting his own aerial look at the area today.
“I understand that the damage is incredible,” he said.
He said recovery is going to take time, but elected leaders at all levels are working together.
“I just want to make sure folks know that this is a team effort,” Jones said. “Everybody here is pulling in the same direction.”
Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings and Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship traveled with the governor to evaluate the damage and offer assistance.
Hastings said local EMAs are still focused on life-saving issues and are transitioning to recovery operations. He praised the first responders who helped save and protect lives during and immediately after Hurricane Sally made landfall. He also praised all who looked out for each other.
“To all of the citizens out there, you’re also first responders,” Hastings said. “Thank you for what you did in taking care of yourself, your families and your neighbors. Please take care of yourselves. Don’t create a disaster within a disaster, and look out for your neighbors and make sure that we get through this long recovery.”
Blankenship, whose department oversees Gulf State Park, said despite the damage to the pier and in the park itself, the dune systems performed well. He said his department is inspecting the damage to oyster reefs and resilient coastline projects put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon joined the governor at Gulf State Park.
“These are Alabama’s beaches and we’re going to make Alabamians proud,” he said. “Very few points in time can you actually say that every day is better than the day before. Today is a whole lot better than yesterday and yesterday was a whole lot better than the day before and tomorrow is going to be a whole lot better than today.”
On Dauphin Island, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson reiterated the spirit of cooperation.
“I assure you we may not get everything exactly right, but it won’t be because we aren’t working with one another and trying to make sure that we do the things that you need us to do to help you recover,” Stimpson said.
Ivey said water, ice and food were pre-positioned at a distribution point in Dallas County and are on the way to Baldwin and Mobile counties. Local distribution points will be established so those in need can receive the aid.
“This has been a tough, tough storm and it’s going to take time to recover,” Ivey said. “So patience is going to have to be a virtue for all of our people.”
Though it may take months or even years to fully rebuild the Gulf Coast, Ivey said it will happen.
“If nothing else, hear this message: The people of Alabama are praying for the people of this area,” she said. “You are in their thoughts and prayers and together if we stand strong and do the very best we can, we will all get through this. We’ve done it before and we will do it again. And I predict we will be stronger in the future than we are today.”