Launch Case Study: Orange Beach, AL High Water Mark Initiative

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On September 10, 2013, the City of Orange Beach remembered Hurricane Ivan’s impact on the coastal community by hosting a High Water Mark Campaign kick-off event.  The event was held in cooperation with federal and state officials in an effort to remind communities of how devastating storms can be and to reinforce the importance of mitigation actions for building a strong, resilient community. This page details the event's participants, background, activities, and media coverage.

Pilot Participants

City of Orange Beach: Tony Kennon (Mayor), Ken Grimes (Orange Beach City Administrator), Tim Arant, & Lannie Smith (Building Official and Emergency Management Coordinator)

State: Leslie Durham (ADECA/OWR), Jeff Byard (AL EM), Tracie Sempier (MS/AL Sea Grant Program)

Federal: Vincent Brown (FEMA HQ), Rob Lowe (FEMA Region IV Branch Chief), Jeff Garmon (NWS/NOAA), Todd Davidson (NOAA)

Hurricane Ivan 2004

Orange Beach High Water Mark sign at the Orange Beach Waterfront ParkIn the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2004, the worst hurricane to hit Orange Beach, Alabama struck.  Hurricane Ivan made landfall near Gulf Shores as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and an 8- to 13-foot storm surge.  The storm pounded the coast from Fort Morgan to Pensacola causing extensive flood and wind damage.

The shoreline was heavily damaged and surging water reached 11.4 feet, displacing hundreds of coastal families and businesses

Launch Event Activities

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 marked the kick-off of the High Water Mark Campaign with an event to educate the community on flood risk and mitigation actions at Waterfront Park in Orange Beach Alabama. The launch event activities included:

  • Opening remarks and welcome by Ken Grimes, Orange Beach City Administrator.Vince Brown from FEMA and the community, wait for Orange Beach High Water Mark presentation to begin
  • A brief discussion about the purpose of Sign Dedication by Lannie Smith, City of Orange Beach Building Official and Emergency Management Coordinator.
  • Overview of Orange Beach’s city programs and commitment to reducing flood and storm risk by Mayor Tony Kennon.
  • Discussion on the importance of preparedness, mitigation and resilience efforts. Storms surge risk and hurricane evacuation by Jeff Garmon NWS/NOAA official.
  • Review of local flood maps and the importance of educating the public on flood risk by Leslie Durham ADECA/OWR official
  • Remembrance of the storm surge and how it relates to flood risk by Jeff Byard AL EM/.
  • Review of community resilience efforts by Tracie Sempier MS/AL SG
  • Final dedication of the sign on the coast in Orange Beach Waterfront Park

9th Anniversary Launch Event

To serve as a reminder of how susceptible we are to nature’s wrath, September 16, 2013 will mark the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Ivan in Orange Beach.  Ivan was a storm that devastated the Orange Beach community through hurricane-scale winds and storm surge. This event provided the community a chance to ensure that such damage would not be so easily sustained anymore.

The Federal Working Partners who participated in this event, including Lannie Smith from Orange Beach,  Todd Davidson from NOAA, Vince Brown from FEMA and others, pose for a photo around the High Water Mark sign.High Water Mark Post Locations

The High Water Mark Campaign plans on placing 15 signs across the Orange Beach community and parks and trail system, including the following areas: Waterfront Park, Gulf Bay Road, Cypress Avenue, Palmetto Extension, Harrison Park, Mississippi Avenue, Look Rook Road, Wilson Boulevard, Boggy Point, Cotton Bayou, Jubilee Point, Hayden Drive and White Avenue.

Event Coverage

Pre-Event Coverage:

Orange Beach to launch flood risk awareness campaign Sept. 10 – From and Press-Register staff

Flood Seminar Tuesday at Orange Beach’s Waterfront Park – From the Gulf Cost Visitor Guide

Orange Beach will place flood awareness sign at Waterfront Park – From

Remembering Hurricane Ivan – From Blog All AlabamaLannie Smith speaks out on the High Water Mark initiative

Map of the High Water Mark post locations – From

"Know Your Line" flood awareness campaign launch in Orange Beach, Sept. 10, 2013 – From

Orange Beach Launches Community Alert System – From The Islander

Last Updated: 
05/01/2015 - 15:33
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