Editorial notebook: On the Gulf Coast, obey the rules
Jun 10, 2013 | 1441 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SEASIDE, Fla.— Even though hurricane season has been declared open, tropical storms don’t usually pop up in June. But there it was.

Andrea.

So I pulled last year’s push-pins from my hurricane-tracking cork-board map and started afresh. 

Over the next few days, I charted Andrea’s course until she came ashore in the Florida Big Bend, bringing rain, high winds and at least eight tornados to that state. Then she crossed into the Atlantic. And as I write she is barreling up the coast past the Outer Banks and toward New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie just can’t get a break.

West of the storm there was little wind and no rain, but the surf ran high.

Along the Florida Panhandle it was a double red-flag day.

No swimming.

“Knee deep is too deep,” the slogan goes.

Go in and the local constabulary will write you up.

It was so rough that even the surfers would not venture out.

On the Alabama Gulf Coast they flew a single red flag, a warning some people ignored. So they got in trouble and lifeguards had to put themselves at risk to pull them out. Four at Gulf Shores, one on Orange Beach (near the FloraBama — alcohol probably involved) and 10 teenage girls had to be rescued at Dauphin Island.

All of which should remind us that the Gulf can be a dangerous and unforgiving place. Water that comes in as waves goes out are rip currents. Keep that in mind if you vacation down there this summer. 

Meanwhile, locals are figuring that if early-bird Andrea is any indication, it is going to be a long and busy hurricane season. In Baldwin County, a coalition of some 30 churches are coordinating their efforts to ready shelters, stockpile necessities and have evacuation routes marked and manned. Although state and federal planners also are at work, this sort of on-the-spot effort by locals will be indispensible.

So, when you are at the Gulf Coast, follow the rules. If you are told to get out of the water, get out. If you are told to get off the beach, get off. And if you are told to evacuate, go home.

Got it?

— Hardy Jackson                  

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