Ivey tours battered Gulf Coast; Area officials say progress being made, ask for patience
MOBILE – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey toured via helicopter on Friday the parts of Alabama hit hardest by Hurricane Sally. She was accompanied at two different stops by several local officials who praised how the response had gone so far, but warned there was much work left to do.
The governor in public remarks called seeing the damage firsthand an “eye-opener,” saying the reality could not be properly conveyed by the news broadcasts she watched before traveling down on Friday.
“The damage is huge, our people are hurting,” she said of witnessing the destruction. “I’m sure it could be worse, but from what I’ve seen this morning in the flyover… it is really, really bad.”
U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who represents the hardest hit parts of the state, was praised by Ivey and several other officials for his work on the hurricane response at the federal level.
Byrne explained that large supplies of water and other necessary relief supplies had been stored by the federal government at an old Air Force base in Selma last week, out of the reach of the storm.
He added that the supplies were now being brought to the area as he spoke around noon on Friday.
Baldwin County bore the brunt of the damage inflicted on the state by Sally. As of 5:30 p.m. on Friday, over 100,000 households remained without electricity. “For Baldwin County this storm is worse than Hurricane Ivan,” said Byrne.
The congressman said he has met with officials at the White House and FEMA, and he said every relevant federal resource would be forthcoming.
As reported by Yellowhammer News earlier in the day, thousands of people from across the United States are pitching in to help restore power in Baldwin County.
Yellowhammer News, in traveling through Baldwin to get to the governor’s event, noted continued long lines at gas stations with many citizens filling up red gas cans once they got to the pump.
Here is a video of the line for gas in Gulf Shores right now. pic.twitter.com/xTA6QO9J0Y
— Henry Thornton (@HenryThornton95) September 18, 2020
One of Baldwin County’s commissioners, Billie Jo Underwood, joined the governor during a briefing at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.
“I want to stress that we need to continue to have patience,” Underwood told the public, urging those listening to follow signs put up by law enforcement and other first responders, who are working around the clock.
Underwood concluded by saying, “We are strong here in Baldwin County, we are resilient.”
The commissioner’s comments echoed Byrne, who said that Baldwin would have a full recovery, “but it won’t happen real quick.”
The governor said on Friday that her main mission for the day was to listen to local leaders to so she could best coordinate the state and federal response.
“We’ve already heard we need ice and water and food,” said Ivey.
Yellowhammer News spotted one church that was giving out free ice and had a long line with many interested.
One Baldwin County resident told Yellowhammer they had been forced to throw out all of their perishable food items, a situation the individual presumed was common in the area.
Across the bay in Mobile County the situation was far less dire, apart from the town of Dauphin Island which experienced a similar treatment to its counterparts on the Eastern Shore.
Around 37,000 households in Mobile County do not have electricity as of 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
“I’m proud to report the government is working here in Mobile County,” said Commissioner Jerry Carl on Friday, adding, “I’m proud to say politics have been pushed aside.”
Carl is the Republican nominee for Alabama’s Second Congressional District but did not mention his campaign for higher office on Friday.
He joined Ivey, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and a cadre of other local officials at a briefing at Dauphin Island’s city hall.
Stimpson said he wanted to join his fellow local officials in “thanking Governor Ivey and Senator Jones for their work.”
“We know the things that need to be done… We will come up with solutions,” remarked Stimpson.
Carl told Yellowhammer News after the official briefing ended that “getting the trees out of the yard and the power on is 99% of getting back to normal after a storm.”
“We are all used to that… we are Alabama tough,” Carl said of his neighbors on the coast.