Alabama’s Gulf Coast ready for spring breakers

Coastal communities rebounding after Hurricane Sally
Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 5:42 AM CST
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Gulf Shores, Ala. (WSFA) - March 16th marks six months since Hurricane Sally slammed into Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The strong category 2 storm caused significant flooding and wind damage.

While Sally slowly crawled across Alabama, the recovery after the storm was swift for most of Alabama’s coastal communities. Less than six months after the storm, the mayors of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores say the recovery is ahead of schedule.

“From the debris side, most of it is up, if not 99 percent,” Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon tells us. “Where we’re a little behind is on the marine side, the piers, the docks, getting all the marinas back up and running.”

In Orange Beach alone, the storm damaged 1700 structures. Right now, 40 percent of rental properties in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are still undergoing repairs. That works out to about 700 fewer properties available to rent.

But, the available properties are in excellent condition and ready for visitors, officials say.

“I think that you will have a wonderful time here,” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft says. “You will be so welcome and so appreciated that you’ll have a good time.”

Beth Gendler, Chief Operating Officer for Gulf Shores-Orange Beach Tourism, says she’s encouraged and anticipates a busy spring and summer travel season.

“Most all of our restaurants are open, the shopping is open, the streets are clean,” Gendler says. “They can enjoy the 28 miles of the Gulf State Park and run and walk up and down the beach road, and they’ll never know anything.”

You can find more information to plan your Alabama Gulf Coast vacation here.

Gulf Start Park took a devastating hit from Hurricane Sally. The storm cut the newly renovated pier in half, flooded the park’s roads and campgrounds. Nearly six months later, the park is in great shape.

“We’ve got the campground fully operational,“ Gary Ellis, Community Relations Director for Gulf State Park, says. “We’ve had about half the pier back open and fully operational, campgrounds open, beach pavilions open, all beach access (points) are open.”

Ellis says they are thrilled everything was able to open back up as soon as it has. They’re also adding some new features around Lake Shelby, including a dog park and playground.

The new features will be open by late spring or early summer.

“We’ve got new restroom facilities and bathhouse area, tram stop,” Ellis adds. “If you plan to visit the campground, get your reservation early. Those fill up early.”

Ellis says reservations are almost booked for spring break.

The City of Gulf Shores reminds visitors alcohol on the beaches during Spring Break is prohibited.

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