Hurricane Dennis is poised to make landfall between Pensacola and Mobile approximately 3 p.m. local time. The track is expected to take the center of the storm over Mobile, then along the Alabama-Mississippi border toward Hattiesburg and Meridian, where it will still have hurricane strength. It will then track northward to Tennessee. Areas to the north and east of the eye will receiive the brunt of the storm, including western Alabama to Selma, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.
Some congregations along the coast had regular Shabbat services this weekend, such as Beth Israel in Biloxi. Temple Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach had a Bar Mitzvah scheduled for the weekend, and guests were reportedly seeking alternate means of leaving town as flights were cancelled.
The area is still recovering from Hurricane Ivan, which struck at Rosh Hashanah last year. Pensacola’s two congregations sustained minimal damage, though an erroneous report went out that Temple Beth El had been destroyed. The report came because of a pile of rubble from a collapsed warehouse that fell into a parking lot which had been the site of the first Beth El. A historic marker is placed there, and a visiting reporter assumed the rubble had been the Beth El building.
One member of the Pensacola Jewish community died during Ivan, and numerous others had significant property damage.
Mobile’s Springhill Avenue Temple recently began post-Ivan repair work on its roof. Across town, Ahavas Chesed had a large tree on its property toppled by Ivan, missing the building.
We will provide updates as we hear from contacts in those communities, and welcome input from readers in the affected areas.
Update: No significant damage was reported.