Tourism increasing in Fort Morgan yet no warning flags, lifeguards despite drownings
FORT MORGAN, Ala. (WPMI) —
NBC 15 is again demanding answers on what can be done to improve beach safety on Fort Morgan, where there remain no warning flags or lifeguards despite continued drownings.
The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism Board invites folks from across the country down to our coasts, including to the beaches of Fort Morgan, which results in billions of dollars in revenue.
Residents we spoke to believe with all that money, there should be a way to help Fort Morgan Volunteer firefighters patrol the nearly 30 miles of coastline.
There were 6 drownings in Fort Morgan in 2017.
The tragedies continued just three weeks ago, as Jevon Lemke was swept away while trying to save his family from a rip current.
There are still no warning flags or lifeguards and signs at the one entrance on Fort Morgan Road only advertise the boat ramp and the Dauphin Island ferry.
The lack of effort is unacceptable to some locals.
Dave Johnson, Orange Beach resident and former City Council member, said with more and more people coming to Fort Morgan, he's afraid there will be even more deaths.
"There's too much conversation going and no reaction," said Johnson,"The County Commission should get together with all the elected officials on this island and figure out what to do."
Officials with Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism said they advertise all beach safety information through vacation guides and other material found at Welcome Centers and rentals.
According to a statement from Herb Malone, President and CEO; "Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism supports any effort by the county and/or state to make a safer experience for visitors out on Fort Morgan."
But Johnson said some tourism dollars should go toward improving safety.
"They advertise the island real good. They say 'Come on down'. Well, they ought to be thinking not only come on down but when you get done, go home safely," Johnson said.
County Commissioners have said they're trying to fix the problem but there are funding and liability concerns, including who controls the beaches.
The property on Fort Morgan is a mix of private, public and State controlled land.
NBC 15's efforts to ask the State for help have gone nowhere.
Right now, all beach safety response falls upon 25 Fort Morgan volunteer firefighters.
"They may be on duty and they may not be, cause they work. They're doing the best they can," said Johnson,"Why can't we give them support. If we're gonna spend money for bridges, lets spend money to save lives."
Commissioners have told NBC 15 they'd like to have some additional safety measures in place by Memorial Day but there are no commitments at this time.