TS Lee's windy effects felt in Galveston

September 3, 2011 5:22:02 PM PDT
It's the last big weekend of summer, but local beachgoers are battling the effects of Tropical Storm Lee.

"We've had to deal with our umbrellas [blowing away] a few times," said Belinda Alexander, who was selling jewelry in Galveston on Saturday.

"We didn't expect the wind [and the] waves," Christian Armstrong said. "We expected nice calm waters."

Business was slow along the seawall.

"We hardly had any business yesterday. Today [was] slow as well," said Carolina Lopez, who runs a sno-cone stand on the island.

Lifeguards are warning swimmers of powerful rip currents and forceful wind.

"[The] main problem we're having is with strong offshore wind keeping people off floats out of the water," Peter Davis with Beach Patrol said. "[We're] having to chase people a bunch out there."

Lifeguards say there was one drowning Saturday. The body of B.J. Petty, 35, was found about 45 minutes after his family lost sight of him. He was visiting from Lubbock.

"His [boogie board] was like flip-flopping and going farther out real fast," witness Dedric Armstrong said.

"And then we realized that some of the lifeguards were going out into the water, and then we started seeing them do mouth to mouth and trying to keep him alive," witness Jackson Foster said.

As word spread of several close calls on the beach, activity on the shoreline cleared.

"The wind is pushing me back and the waves are heavy," Adrienne Armstrong said.

Foster's father says they witnessed enough tragedy and did not want to risk staying longer.

"I think it's too dangerous to be out here," he said.

Officials offer tips for beachgoers to stay safe this Labor Day weekend. Swim near lifeguard stations and stay close to shore and far away from jetties. They've doubled up on patrols for the rest of the holiday weekend.


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