HWM Pilot Summary: Orange Beach, AL

This page highlights the Orange Beach, AL High Water Mark (HWM) Pilot Project which took place on September 10, 2013. See more High Water Mark case studies.

In the early morning hours of September 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

On September 10, 2013, the City of Orange Beach remembered Hurricane Ivan’s impact on the coastal community by hosting a HWM Launch 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.

Launch Event Activities

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 marked the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Ivan in Orange Beach. It was commemorated with a kick-off of the HWM Initiative at Waterfront Park in Orange Beach Alabama. The launch event activities included:

  • Opening remarks and welcome by Ken Grimes, Orange Beach City Administrator;
  • A brief discussion about the purpose of Sign Dedication by Lannie Smith, City of Orange Beach Building Official and Emergency Management Coordinator;
  • An 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 (NOAA NWS);
  • A review of local flood maps and the importance of educating the public on flood risk by Leslie Durham (Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs [ADECA]/Office of Water Resources [OWR]);
  • Remembrance of the storm surge and how it relates to flood risk by Jeff Byard (Alabama Emergency Management [AL EM]);
  • Review of community resilience efforts by Tracie Sempier (Mississippi-Alabama [MS-AL] Sea Grant Consortium); and
  • Final dedication of the sign on the coast in Orange Beach Waterfront Park.

The City of Orange Beach, AL, placed 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.

Pilot Participants

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

State:  Leslie Durham (ADECA/OWR), Jeff Byard (Alabama Emergency Management), Tracie Sempier (MS/AL Sea Grant Consortium)

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

Resulting Media Coverage

The HWM Launch Event drew significant media coverage by local news channels and newspapers. For clips from the event visit:

Last updated February 16, 2021