As Hurricane Fiona churns up the Atlantic Ocean, New Jersey residents are still holding on to the last remnants of summer. But at a time when most beaches at the Jersey Shore have no lifeguards, conditions in the ocean can become deadly.
Lynne Warshaw says she was cautious while visiting the ocean on Monday. When the water is this rough, riptides can take control out of nowhere. It happened just last week.
“I couldn’t touch the bottom and I tried to ride some waves in and every time I took a wave in, I could just touch the bottom, but then it pulled me out again,” she says.
She says she clearly needed help.
“The lifeguard was there, and he saw me getting into trouble. He came right out. I was very appreciative,” Warshaw says, adding that she will only swim where lifeguards are on duty.
Lifeguards will be on duty in Harvey Cedars on a portion of the beaches for the rest of the month.
“We all know September sun shines, the weather’s nice, water’s warm – very inviting. But we also know it’s peak hurricane season,” says Harvey Cedars Police Chief Bobert Burnaford.
Hurricane Earl caused dangerous riptides at the Shore. Two people are recovering after they were rescued off Pier Village in Long Branch, but a third person drowned. There was also a drowning last week in Long Branch – and another one in Atlantic City.
An off-duty New Jersey Transit police officer was forced into action when two friends were swept away at Island Beach State Park. They survived.
Officials have issued numerous warnings about the rough ocean.
“I don’t necessarily find myself scratching my head. I just plan to be more vigilant this time of year,” says Randy Townsend, chief of beach operations for Harvey Cedars.
He says his main worry is the days that don’t seem dangerous.
“What really concerns me are those fray days – the few days leading up to the hurricane, the few days after it leaves,” Townsend says.
Some towns can’t find lifeguards in September. But Harvey Cedars has a strong network and is willing to pay the extra $10,000-$20,000 to keep the beach safe. They are now bracing for what Fiona may bring,
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