"There is probably about 30 days a year that are really good and you really have to watch the weather, have the availability and be able to jump at a moment's notice," Benz said.
Surfers took advantage of the waves at Dauphin Island, Ala., as well. And, across Mobile Bay, pastor Chris Fowler said the surf at Orange Beach was unusually large but didn't appear to be eroding the white sand.
"Right now I'm looking at some really gargantuan waves, probably six or 7 feet high," Fowler said.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama was being updated about the storm, which put an undisclosed number of FEMA workers back to work.
"To support state and local partners, FEMA has recalled and deployed liaisons to emergency operations centers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi," Carney said. "Additionally, today FEMA is deploying three incident management assistant teams recalled from furlough to the potentially affected areas to assist with the coordination of planning and response operations."
Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which oversees offshore drilling, is providing updates on oil and gas drilling in the Gulf that has been shut-in as a result of the storm. The National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service were securing parks and refuges in the storm's path, officials said. The Bureau of Indian Affairs contacted the three federally recognized tribes in the storm's path to coordinate responses and assess needs. And the U.S. Geological Survey was monitoring for flood levels.
Kevin McGill reported from New Orleans. Associated Press reporters Melissa Nelson in Pensacola, Fla.; Tony Winton in Miami; Jay Reeves in Mobile, Ala.; Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans; Alicia Caldwell and Matthew Daly in Washington; and Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Miss.; contributed to this story.
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