Hurricane Sally Drenches Much Of Upper Gulf Coast

Hurricane Sally made landfall in the early morning hours September 16 near Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 storm. Remarkably, Sally made landfall 16 years to the day—almost to the hour—after Hurricane Ivan, which also came ashore at Gulf Shores.

The slow-moving storm dropped months’ worth of rain within a few hours across a swath of the Gulf Coast from Mobile, Ala., east to Pensacola, Fla. In addition, storm surge dealt a blow to low-lying communities near the coast and to vessels along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW).

By the end of the day September 17, the GIWW along Sally’s path had reopened, with the exception of the alternate route through the Chandeleur Sound and Baptiste Collette and between mile markers 127 and 187 (East of Harvey Lock). Both the alternate route and the reach from Dauphin Island, Ala., to Pensacola were awaiting survey reports to rule out any channel obstructions due to storm surge.

Just over 24 hours after the storm made landfall, shoreside facilities at the Port of Mobile were open, while the port continued to survey facility damage.

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“The port did take wind damage from Hurricane Sally,” said Judith Adams, vice president of marketing for the Alabama State Port Authority. “Our personnel are on the job today and conducting full assessments.”

Simultaneously, the Mobile Engineer District, U.S. Coast Guard and industry partners were working together September 17 to survey the Mobile River, harbor and eastern portions of the GIWW along the hurricane’s path, with reopening of navigable channels estimated for late in the day September 18.

Speaking September 17, Wynne Fuller, Mobile District chief of operations, said there was a concern of pleasure craft sunken in the GIWW near Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala.

“ACBL is running that reach with side-scan sonar for us in accordance with our Gulf Coast Hurricane Protocol,” Fuller said.

Fuller said another area of concern was Three Mile Bridge near Pensacola, where a number of barges engaged in bridge work broke away and struck the bridge during the storm.

“We do not have good accounting of the number of barges or boats present,” Fuller said on September 17, “therefore additional surveys will be required in the vicinity of that project.”