Romar Beach Baptist Church in Orange Beach and Camp Baldwin in Elberta each sustained significant damage as Hurricane Sally made landfall at Gulf Shores in the predawn hours of Sept. 16.
Romar Beach Baptist Church suffered extensive damage, inside and out, according to pastor Chris Fowler in a Sept. 17 Facebook post. Windows built to withstand 160+ mph winds were shattered, likely by flying debris, Fowler said, and floor tiles and light poles were damaged.
The church’s boardwalk also was destroyed, but Fowler noted in his post that the “cross right next to the boardwalk took the full force of estimated 125 mph winds too — but STILL STANDS!”
In Elberta, Camp Baldwin took a direct hit from Sally, losing more than 100 large trees and sustaining severe damage to its pier and zipline, along with water damage to some buildings.
Camp director Gil Johnson said a kitchen generator provided temporary power to run the freezer, cooler and well, enabling camp staff to take care of families, volunteers and neighbors during cleanup.
“[We] already have three volunteers from Extreme Ministries (Pell City) cutting and cleaning up our RV park and main campus area. Hopefully we will be able to host more volunteers to help here and also in our community around us, which is also in bad shape.”
Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores as a Category 2 storm, the first hurricane to hit Alabama since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The storm’s slow movement brought torrential rainfall, along with strong winds, to most of coastal Alabama, then trekked north across central Alabama.
The National Weather Service measured more than 8 inches of rainfall in some parts of southeastern Alabama on Sept. 16, bringing the threat of river flooding across the region.
In Elba, the Pea River crested at 2 feet above flood stage, with localized flooding forcing school closures.
Many school systems in Mobile and Baldwin counties remained closed through Sept. 18 as well.
Sally’s winds brought down power lines and trees, leaving nearly a half million people without power in Alabama and Florida.
By Sept. 18 at 7 a.m., Alabama Power reported that power had been restored to all but 75,000 customers in the Mobile area.
ABDR AT WORK
Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief set up incident management sites in Mobile and Baldwin Baptist Associations to begin receiving and assessing requests for assistance.
“This is a developing situation,” said Mark Wakefield, disaster relief strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
“The leadership will be constantly evaluating and adjusting the plan. I am grateful for all the encouragement and support that has been offered. Other states are standing by to assist us. We will ask for their help when appropriate.”