ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — In Orange Beach, “It’s a wonder any of the boats made it,” two days after Hurricane Sally, “we will have to totally rebuild this,” Lynne Swafford was recording on her cell phone her first look at what Hurricane Sally had done to Zeke’s Marina. “I was stunned but I was heartbroken primarily because I realized what the charter captains were going to be dealing with.”
There was no doubt looking at all the destruction it was going to be an uphill climb.
“It was mind-boggling how much destruction there was and I was here for Ivan and it was not even comparable in my opinion.” Charter Captain Bobby Kelly is still doing what he loves but those early hours of the storm are as fresh as the days catch. “I got a phone call from a friend of mine who said hey Bobby, your boats in my front yard.”
His red charter boat “Brianna” along with almost every boat in the charter fleet was damaged or destroyed. “This place was in splinters,” he said looking around Zeke’s. “The entire property it seemed like was all in splinters and you just wonder how you will ever come back from it.”
“We had to step back when we first saw it,” said Swafford. “Because your gut instinct is just to get started.”
Looking at it now, it’s hard to find any sign of the storm at all. Swafford says there is not a deck board or piling that didn’t have to be replaced. “Two years seem like a long time to complete what we have in that short period of time.”
Other parts of the community are still waiting for repairs. The scenic view at Perdido Pass is still obstructed by protective fencing from the broken and bent boardwalk. Those repairs are expected to start this Fall and be finished by Spring. There is no word yet on when the Gulf State Park Pier will be made whole again.
“It is amazing how far this place has come back,” adds Kelly
With all the damage Sally inflicted, two years later the scars are still there but so is the progress.