HCPD closes portion of beaches to swimmers

Published: Aug. 25, 2011 at 7:13 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2011 at 11:00 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Thursday afternoon Horry County Police Beach Patrol closed several beaches for swimming in the area between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach.

Sgt. Robert Kegler, spokesman for the Horry County Police Department, said because of the active rip currents and several swimmers being caught in those currents, the beaches near the Restaurant Row section of Horry County have been closed for swimming only. At the time of the announcement lifeguards had rescued six people from rip currents.

Kegler said beaches closed to swimming extends from Shore Drive to Ocean Creek. People are still allowed on the beach, but they are not allowed to get in the water.

The beaches will be closed indefinitely, Kegler said.

Even as rip currents affect some beaches, beachgoers in other areas found the waters to be calm.

"It's about two to three feet right now, nothing major, maybe, maybe four every once in a while," commented surfer Tanner Trotter.

For him and other surfers near the Springmaid Pier the waves were not great, but they gave them a try.

"It's clean. It's nice. I didn't see any rip currents," said surfer John Motto.

Other beachgoers on the south end of Myrtle Beach said it was a great day to enjoy the water.

"It's fine," said Vrina Musaka. "It's been like this the whole week - nothing really different about it."

Joe Byler who was enjoying a day at the beach with his family said he heard about the threat of rip currents. He was willing to stay out of the water but only if he had to.

"The water's fine - no extra rip current that I've noticed anyway," he said.

With Hurricane Irene pushing more water toward the shore rip currents are a growing threat though. The six rescues on Thursday may just be the beginning of rip current problems. Rip currents can develop quickly, and they will be a widespread threat through the weekend.

"We spoke to our lifeguard this morning, and he told us he would only like you to go in the water waist deep, just for our on safety," said Stuart Laing.

He and his friends are taking the warnings seriously. They will still come to the beach Friday he said, but they will avoid the water if it is too dangerous.

"Safety is first," he said. "We all have kids and family. We want to come back home safe and sound."

While it may be hard to stay out of the water, even the surfers said it is a good idea to play it safe.

"I would say surf today. Tomorrow be a little more cautious," Motto said. "You never know. It might come in. You never know."

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