Swimmers were forewarned that hurricane bill would bring strong surf and harsh rip currents this weekend, but Wrightsville Beach saw the busiest weekend so far this season as for rescues.
Waves were as high as ten feet on Saturday at area beaches, big enough to keep Ocean Rescue staff severely concerned.
For ocean rescue director Dave Baker, warning swimmers of the dangerous rip currents and swells over the weekend should have been enough. “The people who were showing up were not heading the instruction of the emergency personnel.”
Faced with nearly sixty-five rescues alone on Saturday, and another handful on Sunday and no serious injuries.
Baker says the weekend was a busy one for his staff. “These are the people who think it will not happen to them, and those are the ones we end up having to rescue.”
The flags were red all weekend, which means swimmers are advised to stay out of the water. But in addition to that warning, Ocean Rescue drove up and down the beach telling folks to get out of the water.
“It was frustrating, cause we would clear the water, we would have people walk right back behind us and go back in five minutes later,” Baker said.
According to Wrightsville Beach town officials, Ocean Rescue can only warn swimmers to stay out of the water; they can’t make them stay out. At that point it’s up to the beach-goers to use common sense.
Carolina Beach actually closed Freeman Park on Saturday. The town allows them to close areas of the beach with one entry access like the north end.