Tears and Laughter: Irma evacuees welcomed with Alabama heart and hospitality 

If you woke up in Alabama this morning and have a Florida or Georgia tag on your car, God bless you.  

I will venture to guess we’ve probably spent a little more time vacationing in your states than y’all have in ours. And, I’m sure you’ve all heard how we are all rednecks and aren’t good at math, but being Southern neighbors the way we have been all this time makes us somewhat similar by nature one would think.  

Georgia has Six Flags and Callaway Gardens. They have Atlanta and that zoo you can roam through in a car. And Florida is Florida. Everybody loves Florida. But Alabama has some sights too, I assure you.  

And not to get particular right off the bat, but both of you do have those horribly immoral lotteries. Now personally, I drive to Florida usually once a week to buy tickets, but a lot of people think I am likely going to hell. I would drive to Georgia, if it was a closer. I can be in Century, Florida in an hour and 35 minutes. That’s on backroads with no stops. 

Sometimes, I will go to McDavid, Florida to get tickets, because I like to drop by and make a small donation to the Poarch Creek Indians in Atmore. But if I’m craving Fancy Ketchup from Whataburger, then Century wins out.  

As a state though, Alabama does not believe in gambling. It is wrong. We are agriculturally based and have four casinos, and a few dog tracks but we do not believe in casting lots.  

We also have a few schools Georgia would tear down, but still, we choose not to participate in the devil’s silly number games. 

Of course it has been brought up in discussion on the floor of the State House, and it’s a little funny, but our legislator’s cannot decide what to do with the revenue a lottery would generate. But I’ve already mentioned how we are not widely known for our mathematical abilities. We don’t have to be. Our state is good at football, and we have big hearts. 

Our states have hurricanes in common. We know the power they can hold and the destruction they can bring. The havoc and despair they leave in their wake. 

We understand fear, anxiety, and the stress uncertainty can bring. We know what tired means. 

We know how being stressed and tired can wreck a person’s patience. Tempers flare, and words can fly, and tears will spill easy when you wake-up in a place you probably never even intended to visit, worried about the place you call home. 

We understand, and we want to help. Everyone comes together in times like these. There isn’t a town in Alabama that isn’t willing to help evacuees from Hurricane Irma. Schools and churches have opened as shelters. Motels and campground have welcomed people. Communities are planning and cooking hot meals. Alabamians are offering what they have to people who had to evacuate too quickly to remember to pack everything. Sometimes the simplest of needs being met, like being handed fresh towels or a hot cup of coffee, can make grown women weep. 

Neighbors love one another. We are eager to help. Don’t hesitate to ask during your brief stay, and may God comfort and keep each of you as you return safely home.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Bentley Declares State of Emergency

from the Governor’s Office

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Sunday declared a statewide State of Emergency and issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Isaac’s expected landfall as a hurricane along the Gulf Coast.

“I am urging everyone to take precautions now, monitor weather warnings, and be prepared for whatever Isaac may bring,” Governor Bentley said. “By declaring this state of emergency, I am mobilizing the resources our communities need as the storm approaches.”

“This state of emergency indicates we are drawing closer to feeling the impact of Isaac,” Alabama EMA Director Art Faulkner said. “Please make preparations now for the potential impact of strong winds and heavy rains for your area.”

Governor Bentley is also ordering a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8:00 Monday morning for Zones 1 and 2 in both Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

In Baldwin County: Zones 1 and 2 include all areas south of U.S. Highway 98 and areas on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay that are South of Interstate 10 and west of U.S. Highway 98. Additionally, all people living in proximity to the Fish, Styx, Blackwater, and Perdido Rivers should evacuate. Also, all people living in manufactured homes, and those living in low-lying, flood-prone areas should evacuate.

In Mobile County: Zones 1 and 2 include areas south of Interstate 10 and those areas that are north of I-10 and east of I-65 and east of U.S. 43. Also, all people living in manufactured homes, and those living in low-lying, flood-prone areas should evacuate.

By declaring a State of Emergency, Governor Bentley is directing the activation of the Alabama Emergency Operations Plan. Governor Bentley is also directing the appropriate state agencies to exercise their statutory authority to assist the communities and entities affected by the storm. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency is also authorized to make appropriate assessments of damages following the storm and seek any necessary state and federal assistance for affected areas.

Governor Bentley is also ordering Alabama National Guard troops to be on standby in order to assist communities that may be impacted by Isaac. All key state agencies are also on alert and ready to assist.

Residents along the coast and inland are all encouraged to continue to monitor changing weather conditions. The Ready Alabama website, www.readyalabama.gov, includes helpful suggestions to help people prepare for the impact of a hurricane. Ready Alabama information is also available on Twitter by following @readyalabama. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency also has information online at www.ema.alabama.gov and on Twitter by following @AlabamaEMA.