‘Sigh of relief’: Sally spares a Mississippi gator ranch

National News

In this image made from video, an alligator is seen on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Moss Point, Miss.. As Hurricane Sally’s outer bands reached the U.S. Gulf Coast and landfall was imminent, the manager of Gulf Coast Gator Ranch & Tours was hoping he wouldn’t have to live a repeat of what happened at the gator farm during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when about 250 alligators escaped their enclosures. (AP Photo/Stacey Plaisance)

MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) — As rain and wind from Sally started reaching the Gulf Coast, the manager of a Mississippi alligator ranch was just hoping he wouldn’t have to deal with a repeat of what happened during Hurricane Katrina.

That’s when about 250 alligators escaped their enclosures as storm surge pushed water over the grounds.

But this time, the storm slid east and spared the ranch.

“I’m thinking a sigh of relief somewhat,” said manager Tim Parker, who took over Gulf Coast Gator Ranch & Tours after Katrina.

Earlier this week, forecasters said Hurricane Sally could push up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) of ocean water surging into the swamps and wetlands where the gators roam, floating them up and over the fences around the farm. As the hurricane moved east of Mississippi, the surge forecast was reduced to no more than 4 feet (1.2 meters).

Parker’s farm has alligators up to 14 feet long, roaming and swimming through ponds, sand dunes and tall marsh grass. Visitors can take air boat rides or walking paths to see the gators in their natural habitat and learn about the animals. It’s been around about 45 years.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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