Gilich: Be thankful and thoughtful

“We’re very thankful today,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said to a host of interviewers seeking comment on Biloxi’s near-miss with Hurricane Sally, which devastated Pensacola, Fla., with 100 mph winds and nearly 25 inches of rain.

“And while we’re thankful,” Gilich added, “we’re also thoughtful, for our neighbors in Mobile and Pensacola, and the Florida panhandle. We dodged a bullet, but we know what they’re going through.”

In fact, a group of volunteers from the Biloxi Fire Museum and the New Sharon (Iowa) Volunteer Fire Department, who had all been in Cameron, La., for Laura relief before evacuating for Sally, are now enroute to Fairhope, Ala. to help first responders with damaged homes.

“We’ve already been in contact with our colleagues over there,” said Fire Chief Joe Boney, who had housed five volunteers from New Sharon in the Biloxi Fire Museum. ‘We’ve told them we’re on the way.”

In Biloxi, however, the impact was minimal, with tropical force winds and a smattering of rain. Keesler reports that rainfall totals since Monday were less than three-quarters of an inch. River levels, which were expected to crest at double their flood stage today and Wednesday, have seen flooding forecasts reduced accordingly.

Non-emergency city offices opened no later than 10 this morning.

No damage was reported at facilities, save electrical issues at the municipal harbors and marinas.

“We’re working to make sure we get those issues taken care of right now,” said Larry Sablich, manager of the city’s harbors and marinas. “We know that we have 300 or so boaters that want to get their craft back in the harbors and marinas. We’re asking them to return first thing Thursday morning, but, frankly, we’re not turning any away today.”

Sablich said he’s also received inquiries from boat owners in Orange Beach and other Alabama locales seeking slips to store their vessels.

Gilich, meanwhile, cautioned the public not to become complacent with storm preparations.

“We realize that we’ve had brushes with Cristobal and Laura and Marco,” the mayor said. “We realize that there’s a cost in time and money when you have to shutdown and prepare, or evacuate boats from the harbors. We realize it’s inconvenient, but all you have to do is look at Gulf Shores and Pensacola today to see what was close to happening to us.”

Said the mayor: “That’s the message today: Be thankful, be thoughtful and be vigilant.”
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