Couldn’t go boating last weekend, huh? Lifeguards tossed you out of the rocky waves slapping at the beach? Maybe your electricity went out for an hour or so.
Minor inconveniences. Be certain, Baldwin County, much of the Gulf Coast, in fact, dodged what could have been a disaster last weekend.
When Barry first swirled as a tropical depression the sudden, messy and barely swirling storm in the northern Gulf of Mexico took residents by surprise. The slow moving mass eventually collected its things, organized its center and became the first hurricane of the 2019 season. As the storm gained strength and direction it could have easily wobbled due north and hit Baldwin County head on.
Instead, Barry staggered and stumbled and made landfall in Louisiana, dousing residents in that state with as much as 23 inches of rain in some towns.
Alabama was not left untouched. High surf on our beaches measured between 5 and 10 feet. Heavy rains dropped several inches of water causing flash flooding in some locations.
The threat to our county, and especially our coastal regions, was so great that double red flags flew and beaches were closed to swimmers. In the early morning hours the day before Barry roared ashore, lifeguards roamed the beach imploring swimmers to leave the choppy waves. Eventually, officials threatened to issue fines or arrest those who refused to retreat.
Which left us with one question. Why in the world would you get into the water when it was declared off limits and life guards were traveling up and down the sand to beg you to come ashore?
This brazen behavior is nothing more than the actions of incredibly selfish people. Our friends, families and neighbors work those shores and are trained to jump into potentially deadly waves to save the lives of those who mock official warnings.
If officials close the beach, please, heed their warnings. Keep yourself, your children and your pets out of the water. If you see visitors skipping into the waves, tell them how dangerous the rip currents are. Tell them that they will be fined or even jailed for breaking the rules. Remind them that our neighbors have pledged to risk their lives to save those who need help.
It is not fair for our first responders to risk their lives for those who would brazenly ignore the rules meant to keep tragedy from happening.