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Galveston's Beach Patrol encourages swimmers to stay close to lifeguard towers

The good news is lifeguards will be covering nine miles of beach over the holiday weekend.

GALVESTON, Texas — Memorial Day Weekend is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people to Galveston Beach despite a rainy forecast.

The island’s Beach Patrol is gearing up for the big crowds by staffing all of their lifeguard towers.

However, heading into the summer that may not be the case.

Peter Davis, chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol, isn’t calling it a lifeguard shortage just yet.

He said they are below their target numbers when it comes to staffing.

The good news is lifeguards will be covering nine miles of beach over the holiday weekend.

He urges visitors to swim near a lifeguard tower.

Beachgoers like Shawn Pettersson are ready to enjoy the sunshine and water.

“It’s the first beautiful day in a while,” Pettersson said.

Other families like Albert Ruiz plan where they are going to spend the day.

"There’s stores, people around to help if we need anything. It’s a nice, clean, safe area," Ruiz said.

“A lifeguard is obviously nice to have and we appreciate what the lifeguards are out here doing," Pettersson said.

Beach Patrol said if the crowds leading up to this weekend are any indication it’s going to be busy.

Davis said they’re noticing visitors arriving earlier in the year and staying later.

“That concerns us,” he said. “Weekdays have been an issue. Having enough staff out here and also, most of labor is seasonal workers so they’re like students. They come out on the weekends in the season and summer they’ll come.”

With thousands expected over the holiday weekend Beach Patrol is working to make sure there’s a lifeguard on duty at all 32 of their lifeguard towers.

“We may not have two people up there like we like on those big holiday weekends but we’re going to have them staffed,” Davis said.

In the end visitors said it’s about personal responsibility and that lifeguards are just an added level of protection.

"Stay focused. Be here now because they’re kids. They need us to watch out for them," Ruiz said.

Also, Pettersson added, “I’m not just watching just myself and my own kids. I’m watching everything because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Davis said this weekend there may not be enough lifeguards to have extra resources like boats on the water or lost children details.

But, they’re working to hire and train more lifeguards heading into the summer season.

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