Late last week Albertville resident Nancy Morrison kissed her husband goodbye and took off for a 25 hour, two-day road trip down to Orange Beach, Alabama, with her two young sons in tow, ages six and three. She was meeting her aunt and cousins at a resort for what they had hoped would be a week of sunshine, beach lounging and relaxation. The group had been planning the trip since last October, but none of them happened to plan for one small detail: Hurricane Isaac.
“We didn’t consider Isaac to be a real threat [to their vacation area] until we got here,” Morrison said.
When the group arrived Saturday afternoon all was calm and sunny, and they spent the better part of Sunday on the beach. Then all of a sudden things began to change, and Morrison found out that hurricane trackers had tagged Orange Beach as a possible eye of the storm. Sunday night, an emergency evacuation order was placed on their area for Monday morning, and the group made plans to leave as the howling wind and stinging rains began in earnest.
By Monday morning, however, things had changed yet again for Orange Beach, which is located just to the west of the Florida state line. The weather was calmer and it was now looking like the town would be on the far eastern outskirts of the storm. After much questioning and discussion-including finding out many locals would be staying home to have “hurricane parties” since all the resort workers were off-the group changed course and decided to stick out the storm as long as meteorologists kept putting them at the fringes of the storm. Being it is nearly the anniversary of Katrina, Morrison said some of the locals felt that officials were taking an understandably cautious approach from the start, and then new information made the possibility of a strong storm in the area seem even less likely.
“We thought about it, prayed about it, called our husbands … and we just decided that as long as the forecasts stayed west, we were going to stay. If it moved east, we were ready to go. If everything hadn’t lined perfectly the way it did, I would have left without a doubt. But I’m glad we stayed. We know we got lucky.”
So the beach vacation has since turned into anything but. Morrison said they have had “the run of the place” the past three days, swimming in the indoor pool and hot tub, playing volleyball in the water, working out and being together in their hotel rooms. The first responders were pulled from the area, non-mandatory resort staff was pulled, and most people checked out while Morrison’s group gathered up groceries-the grocery store is now closed down-and hunkered down to wait out the howling winds and heavy rains. She said the winds about knock her over, worsening on Wednesday from the other days but luckily there is no debris to deal with. Besides that, they’ve gone through two tornado warnings and dealt with torrential, stinging rains.
“The waves are crazy-the water was coming horizontally out of the pool in sheets,” she said. “But we just made do. The boys are having a blast. It’s funny because we’re in here having a good old time and I’m taking pictures of them while out the window you can see these crazy waves and palm trees bent over.”
Hurricane Isaac was downgraded to Tropical Storm Isaac Wednesday, and as of last night the slow-moving storm was gusting winds of 60 miles per hour in southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi coastal areas. Friday should be clearing up for Morrison and her crew in Alabama, and they’re hoping to squeeze one last beach day into their vacation before the long drive home begins.