A look back at Frederic’s destruction to Dauphin Island

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DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) — After Frederic, the residents of Dauphin island were met by pure devastation. Those who left the island couldn’t get back. And those who rode out the storm on the island, will surely never ride out a storm like Frederic again.

“What took men years to build on Dauphin Island took Frederic hours to destroy. Unofficial estimates are the hurricane did 25 million dollars damage to the west end of the island alone.”

This is Dr. John Dindo, the Assistant Director at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, where he has worked for 43 years. 

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director: “So I was here at the lab, but I was a volunteer on the fire department.” 

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director:” The man that owned Ship and Shore, his name was Mr. Ben Burger. He had fire trucks that he purchased for the island he had old national guard army deuce and a half, so we had that one loaded with generators and water and stuff and I took that off the island that afternoon expecting to come back the next day. Obviously, you saw the bridge… I didn’t make it.”

He wouldn’t make it, because the only route on and off of the island didn’t make it.

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director: “The Dauphin Island Bridge back then was about 10-12 feet off the water. A concrete bridge, but about 10-12 feet off of the water.” “What happened is the roadbed actually got lifted up by the waves and deposited right there in the water.”

Those who left the island couldn’t get back. And those who rode out the storm on the island, will surely never ride out a storm like Frederic again.

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director: ” Mr. Burger, himself, the man that owned Ship n Shore, he and Billy Patronas, who was one of the first town council members from years ago, they both stayed at the store and to avoid the storm, they walked into the walk-in freezer. And they rode the storm out inside the walk-in freezer.”

When the storm had finally passed, the residents of Dauphin island were met by pure devastation.

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director: “Every roof on every one of our buildings got peeled off. When the roofs left, all the pebbles on the roofs broke out every window. Then when the rain came, all the buildings got soaked.” 

Buildings were toppled, roads were destroyed.

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director:  “Bienville Blvd was impassable. The median and sides were all lined with real tall pine trees. They were all blown down. We started on this end and other people started on this end to cut one lane just to get down there.”

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director: “It was kind of interesting. One house would be right here and that would be wiped out and the next door neighbor’s house would still be standing.”

As someone who knows all to well what hurricanes are capable of, when I asked Dr. Dindo what his advice was for those who may want to ride out a storm in the future: 

Dr. John Dindo, Assistant Director: “Pay attention to the news teams. Listen to what they are saying. It’s not hype. Broadcasting saves lives. But you have to listen.” 

Meteorologist Taylor Sarallo WKRG News 5

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