SOUTH WALTON Fla. (WMBB) — Sunshine returned to the Panhandle drawing people to area beaches. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ida is still having effects on the gulf and lifeguards are at their wit’s end.
“We don’t have power so that’s why we have to stay out here,” said Louisiana resident Braylon Montero.
Montero and his family evacuated from Slidell Louisiana and came to South Walton’s beaches but Hurricane Ida’s impact extended to the Panhandle causing rainy weather, flooding, and tornado warnings.
“Ever since the hurricane hit we’ve just been staying inside and catching fish,” said Montero.
Just because it is sunny doesn’t mean it is safe. The beach may be open to visitors, but the gulf itself is closed.
Double red flags were flying high Wednesday, but for some beachgoers, they have not noticed, even with lifeguards roaming the beach.
“Mother nature is ruthless, please do not test her,” said South Walton Fire District Public Information Officer Mackenzie McClintock.
McClintock said their lifeguards are growing tired of constant defiance from their visitors.
“One serious water rescue was out near Miramar Beach, where the lifeguard pulled the victim out of the water in double red conditions, the victim looked to the lifeguard and told them that they didn’t have strong swimming abilities,” said McClintock. “That’s mind-boggling to us.”
The gulf is not a pool, lifeguards warned many to get out of the water. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office wrote one ticket and made nearly 50 contacts on the beach.
“Ida has severely damaged our sandbars and whenever a storm like that comes in it breaks those sand bars open and rip currents will form at a moment’s notice and begin to suck people out to sea,” she said.
McClintock and other safety officials want to remind all beachgoers to respect the Beach Flag Warning System and keep a close eye on their children.