BAY MINETTE – Baldwin County offices will be closed at least through Wednesday as local officials take actions to deal with the threat of Hurricane Sally.
In an emergency meeting called Monday morning to with issues related to Hurricane Sally, the Baldwin County Commission voted to declare a local emergency and to close all non-essential offices, including the courthouses on Tuesday and Wednesday and to authorize Commission Chairwoman Billie Jo Underwood to extend the closing if necessary.
Zach Hood, Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency director, said Sally could pose a significant problem for the area and officials should be prepared.
“Sally will slow significantly as it approaches the coast and this will lead to a prolonged event, especially with regard to heavy rainfall, storm surge, strong winds and dangerous surf,” Hood said. “So, we have to take Sally very seriously.”
Hood said flooding is expected to be a major issue throughout the county.
“This is not going to just impact our coastal area now,” Hood told commissioners. “This is going to impact extreme areas in northern Baldwin and all of them are equally important to all of us and so what I’d want the message to be is regardless of where you are in the county, if you’ve had flood issues in the past, you can expect to have those, however, there may be some that have not experienced flood issues or had flood issues in their area that could see flooding from this. To what extent, it’s a best guess at this point.”
Hood said as much as 25 inches of rain could fall in some areas over the next several days. He said flooding is predicted in streams in all areas of Baldwin County, including Fish River, Perdido River and other waterways. High water is also expected in Fort Morgan and coastal areas.
Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack said he did not expect that a curfew would be needed on Monday night, but was not certain about later in the week.
“My best estimate right now is we monitor the situation through today, however, I do feel that if we get into a heavy rain event tomorrow, that one would be warranted on Tuesday night,” Mack said Monday.
The sheriff said residents should expect some roads prone to flooding, including the Causeway, to close.
Hood said that people living in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding should prepare to leave, but he did not recommend evacuations for entire areas of the county. He said no shelters have been opened and that Baldwin County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster
Commissioner Joe Davis said the commission would follow the recommendations of officials such as Mack and Hood in deciding how to deal with the storm
“This commission has full confidence in people who are in places of decision making, such as the sheriff and the EMA director, and the chair would be acting on our behalf and not have to be delayed by bouncing stuff off us, because I don’t want to make the decision based on what I know. I want to make the decision based on what these two gentlemen know,” Davis said.
Later in the day, Gov. Kay Ivey ordered all Alabama beaches closed while Hurricane Sally is a threat.
Baldwin County public schools were also closed Tuesday and Wednesday.