GULF SHORES - Gov. Robert Bentley toured Alabama beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach today, declaring them open and ready for business ahead of the Labor Day weekend.
Bentley said Alabama was fortunate to be spared significant damage from Hurricane Isaac, a Category 1 storm that made landfall in southeastern Louisiana late Tuesday.
"It’s a little windy here, but we’re glad to see the sun starting to come back out, and we’re also glad to see that the majority of the storm missed this area," Bentley said during a beachfront news conference at Gulf State Park.
"It’s still not a situation where people can swim, but it’s going to be beautiful down here, it’s going to be a great Labor Day weekend and we encourage people to come down and have a good time," Bentley said. "We want people to come here to the beach, enjoy the beach because it’s a beautiful part of the state."
Bentley, who led recovery efforts for the tornadoes that struck Alabama last year, said Isaac was the first hurricane he'd had to deal with as governor.
He said he made the decision to issue a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday, while Isaac churned across the Gulf of Mexico, based on recommendations from weather experts and emergency responders.
Bentley later lifted the evacuation order for most of Mobile and Baldwin counties, saying he did so based on the storm's continued track away from Alabama and on feedback he received from local officials.
"It's been a good experience," he said. "I’m one who learns from what happens. Thank goodness it did not hit us very hard. So we will learn from this and be even better prepared for the next one. I hope there won’t be another one but we’ll be ready if there is."
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