Year after Hurricane Sally, Orange Beach family repays community’s kindness

Baldwin County

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Families on the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sally.

Two Orange Beach families lost their homes in a massive fire just hours after the storm passed. One of those homes belonged to Jack Rayborn.

“That was something else, yeah,” Rayborn said.

Hurricane Sally hit on Sept. 16, 2020, and it left their home relatively unharmed. But that night, their son, Chandler, awoke to flames coming from next door.

We spoke with Chandler last year —”I was yelling probably very loud ‘Clint and Sue’s house is on fire we’ve got to get them up.’”

Jack Rayborn ran next door and woke his neighbors just in time. The fire spread to five buildings. Orange Beach firefighters waded through three feet of water to save three of the buildings. Both the Rayborns and their neighbors’ homes were destroyed.

“We pray every night about it and how lucky we were,” Rayborn said.

Now, they’re almost ready to move back home, which is a huge relief. “I’m just focused now on us getting in and what’s being done each day.”

One of his favorite things he found after the fire — an American flag that had been burned but not destroyed. The flag will stay with him in their rebuilt home. “I’ve got it rolled up in the closet over there, and as soon as we’re finished, we’re going to unfurl it and hang it.”

They say they couldn’t have done it without all of the help from their community. “My neighbor Avery, and his wife Caroline said, ‘Y’all stay here while you get your house tore down and get your feet under you.’ So we did that,” Rayborn said. That neighbor lives in Louisiana, and this year, they needed the help. 

“As soon as that storm they said it was going to Houma, I knew what we were going to do,” Rayborn said.

Rayborn says he called his neighbor the morning after Hurricane Ida slammed the Louisiana Gulf Coast.

“I called him and said, ‘What do you need?’ And he said ‘Bring me gas, bring me water, and bring me air conditioners, bring me tarps,'” Rayborn said. He continued, “This community filled up a horse trailer in four hours, and we left on Monday afternoon and went straight to them to return the favor for what they had done for us.”

Their home is now almost finished, but the reminders will always be there. 

Rayborn says they are focusing now on the future. “We’re almost back,” he said.

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