How the Gulf of Mexico Was Affected by Hurricane Sally: An Inside Scoop

Staff Writer: Kailyn Gunkler

On September 16, Hurricane Sally made landfall as a Category 2 storm affecting a large portion of the Gulf of Mexico including Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. The storm was first observed in the Bahamas less than a week before it hit, and the storm also shifted its path which left very little if any time to fully brace for impact.

Sally was also moving at a painfully slow pace of only 2-3 miles per hour, which only made the storm surge and flooding in the affected areas worse since the outer bands of the storm were hovering over land before the eyewall hit.

My family and I have a beach home on the island down in Navarre Beach, Florida, so very soon after the storm dissipated, we hit the road for our home away from home to assess the damage. I remember driving over the bridge, and although the water receded by the time my brother and I arrived a few days after Sally made landfall, it truly looked like a ghost town.

A Royal Starfish graveyard beside a tide pool a few days after Hurricane Sally made landfall on Navarre Beach, FL.

Along the streets there was home decor, furniture, and broken pieces from homes piled up to be picked up. There was almost like a gray film hovering over the island for at least half of the time I was there, and the ocean was not as beautiful as it usually was. The sand dunes were pushed back extremely close to the homes, the sand wasn’t a dark gray in most spots, and the water was very murky compared to what it typically looks like.

Perhaps one of the most notable impacts that Hurricane Sally had on our town was the heaps of starfish that washed up onto the beach. They’re a beautiful species called Royal Starfish; however, you could tell the storm beat them up badly. Most of them were missing their arms, and their vibrant color faded.

A large species of jellyfish that washed up on shore with plenty of others.

Although I could see the effects Sally had on our community, I was interested to see how our neighbors held up. Part-time resident of Navarre Beach, Claudia Bandringa said she was “very grateful a friend here let me crash at their place for the night. I was too chicken to be alone!”

Another resident who had “extensive water damage” to her home, Samantha Grabulis, stated, “Sally was rough. It’s a bit of psychological/emotional recovery at this point.” Although it was sad right after the hurricane passed through because everyone was so shocked at how much damage our community suffered with little to no time to prepare, we bounced back incredibly fast.

Although we didn’t feel the effects from Sally as much as the coastal areas did, I think we all can learn something from this. I believe that any natural disaster like this truly opens everyone’s eyes to how thankful we should be to wake up every morning. Of course, damage to your home and sentiments is heart-breaking, but a lot of the time, objects can be replaced, but lives cannot be. In the grand scheme of things, especially since we are inching towards a season of gratefulness, we should all count our blessings even in the midst of a storm… emotionally or physically. Have a fantastic day, Wolverines!!

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