Is ALDOT Ready For Hurricane Season?


By Amanda Wade

We are less than two weeks away from the start of hurricane season. Is Alabama prepared? Is the Department of Transportation is ready for action?

If a storm like hurricane Ivan hits Alabama again, the department of transportation has a strategy. A reverse lane interstate evacuation plan.

ALDOT workers and state troopers lined exits along I-65 from Mobile to Montgomery. They rehearse a 150 step evacuation plan once a year, ready to close southbound traffic before a hurricane hits Alabama. The plan requires 200 ALDOT workers, 100 state troopers, and major involvement from local agencies, "The rehearsals have allowed us, during the two times we've actually needed to reverse the lanes for an evacuation, to do it safely and without any loss of life," says ALDOT spokesman, Tony Harris.

In Butler County, its been nearly 10 years since Hurricane Ivan caused widespread damage. For some, the memories of destruction and despair are still fresh, "The most vivid memory I have is the next morning going outside and what it smelled like. It smelled like pine trees because all the pine trees had broken and fallen, and it was just this intense smell of pine needles," says Steve Norman.

Butler County Emergency Management Agency Director, Shirley Sandy, says although they do not have planned hurricane drills, the county does have hurricane evacuation plans in place, "We have shelters in place strategically located throughout the county. We have a shelter for evacuation if we have a mass evacuation from the coast. We would be taking the last, like if it's reverse lane, we would be taking the last of them to get them off the road."

Hurricane season begins on June 1st and runs through November.