North Carolina beachgoers form human chain in attempt to rescue swimmers
NC beach lifts red flag warnings after 11 days — and has 6 ocean rescues in 1 day
By Abbie Bennett
August 02, 2018 07:31 PM
The town of Emerald Isle had red flags flying for 11 days warning swimmers of dangerous ocean conditions, town leaders said. And on the first day they lifted that warning, the town had 6 ocean rescues.
Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush told The News & Observer in an interview Thursday that emergency crews had 6 ocean rescues in a couple of hours around low tide Thursday afternoon.
“To my knowledge, everyone should be OK,” Rush said.
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When asked how many people were rescued, Rush said he didn’t have those details as of about 6:40 p.m. Thursday, and that he wouldn’t have that information until reports were completed Friday.
WITN reported that seven members of an Edinburgh, Virginia, family visiting Emerald Isle were rescued Thursday afternoon, about one mile east of the Islander Inn.
The town had not put the red flags back up as of Thursday evening, Rush said.
“As we do everyday, we’ll re-evaluate conditions in the morning and issue the appropriate warnings at that time,” he said. “We certainly hope we’ll stay at yellow from here on out, but we won’t hesitate to go back to red if it’s necessary.”
Rush and Emerald Isle Mayor Eddie Barber told The N&O on Wednesday that the town was implementing an ordinance to try to make sure swimmers heed the red flags.
If a swimmer ignores red flags and lifeguard/police warnings to stay out of the ocean, they could be issued a $100 fine, Rush said.
Hours before the rescues, the town posted on Facebook saying that red warning flags had been removed from beaches.
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“FINALLY! Conditions Improving in Emerald Isle, But Moderate Rip Current Risk Remains,” the town wrote. “Town officials have completed local observations this morning, and are pleased to report gradually improving ocean conditions along Emerald Isle’s ~ 12 miles of ocean beaches. The public may resume normal recreational use of the ocean in Emerald Isle, however, the Town urges everyone to be cautious when playing in the ocean.”
Yellow flag conditions are the town’s normal designation “as entering the ocean always involves some degree of risk,” the town wrote. The yellow flags stand in the same locations as the red flags, according to the town.
“Although the RED FLAGs have been removed, and the public may again enjoy playing in the ocean, the Town continues to urge caution,” the town wrote on Facebook. “… Everyone is encouraged to be aware of conditions, swim with a friend, remain vigilant in monitoring children, and know what to do if you are caught in a rip current!”
Emerald Isle has a section on its website dedicated to ocean safety at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/safety.
Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water. Rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues, and can be dangerous or deadly if you don’t know what to do. This video from NOAA Ocean Today shows you how to break the grip of the ri
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