Gulf of Mexico

AL - Where Are the Snowbirds? Coronavirus, Hurricane Make Difficult Winter Season for Alabama Beaches

Nancy and Jeff Poferl consider themselves on the “younger side” of their Minnesota snowbird flock.

They say they are “relatively healthy” and aren’t overly concerned about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But before they headed south to the Alabama coast this month from their home in the St. Paul suburb of White Bear Lake, their family members had some questions.

“Our families, of course, were asking, ‘Are you still going?’” said Nancy Poferl, 65, president of the Minnesota Snowbird Club. “People are not wanting their families going down to take the chance.”

The Proferls were undaunted, but plenty other of the usual winter visitors are staying home this time as the coronavirus grips the country.

That’s been another blow for cities like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, which are still getting back to their feet from Hurricane Sally in September. Sally flooded entire neighborhoods, and ripped into condos and vacation homes alike, putting many of the usual vacation rental properties on the sidelines awaiting extensive repairs.

“I know several people who did cancel because of COVID,” said Pat Brush, 66, of Fairfax Iowa, and president of the Iowa Snowbird Club. “We also know several people who canceled because their condos are not available. It’s maybe 50-50.”

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