GALVESTON, Texas - Even before Galveston County landed under a tropical storm warning as Tropical Storm Cindy approached Tuesday, officials and tourists there had been planning for a direct hit.
Red flag warnings are up all along Galveston beaches, warning people to stay out of the rough surf.
Beach Patrol isn't expecting anything catastrophic but they tell KHOU 11 News they're approaching the storm as worst case scenario. They're expecting tides of more than five feet and 40- to 50-mile per hour winds.
For anyone looking for the perfect snapshot of summer, 61st and Seawall in Galveston just after 11 a.m. Tuesday was the place to be: some kids on boogie boards looking for waves, others building sand castles, and families relaxing, even while a turbulent storm brewed offshore.
“We don’t care about the tropical storm. We’re on vacation here,” said Brandon, who was visiting from Dallas with his family. “I’m away from work. That’s all that matters.”
“It’s not gonna ruin my vacation,” said Sylvester Sichangwa, another visitor from the Dallas area. “I think all the guys out here are ready.”
Within the hour, the waves went up, and so did the red warning flags at every beach on the island.
“We still think it’s not going to be that big of deal here, but we want to make sure we take the precautions we need to,” said Peter Davis, Chief of Galveston Island Beach Patrol, early Tuesday afternoon.
On Tuesday night, Beach Patrol started work to make sure the island is ready. Lifeguards hauled away towers from the beach front and moved them back toward the seawall.
"The surf has jumped from about a foot this morning to what you see now which is getting pretty rough. It's going to get a whole lot rougher or bigger," Davs said.
Davis said in addition the lifeguard towers, his crew will be picking up trash cans and moving port-o-potties. There is also the other major red flag to swimmers and surfers alike who are looking to test the waters.
"We just can't take chances of people getting in those areas and having to make rescues, because rescues are really dangerous for them and us," Davis said.
The City of Galveston is also running on a high level of preparedness. So far, they have not called for any evacuations, but public works crews will be out here on the Strand the first thing Wednesday morning to clear debris from storm drains.
Other venues like Schlitterbahn and Moody Gardens tell us they're watching the weather closely.
"I live in Houston and it was her great idea to bring the family down and we don't have the hot sun," said Felicia Bryant, who was with her friends on the beach Tuesday night.
They say they don't regret going to Galveston for the day.
"If I saw rain coming in from the ocean or real hard winds, I know it's not a good idea to be out here," Zadona Dayton said.
Beach Patrol insists you shouldn't cancel your plans but instead be extremely cognizant of the weather.
Officials with Galveston County say they are fully staffing their Emergency Operations Center and calling in community emergency response team (CERT) volunteers.
Brian Maxwell, Galveston’s City Manager, says local police and fire departments are prepping their high-water rescue vehicles, and city crews will be cleaning debris out of storm drains.
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