VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Red flags at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Wednesday did not stop some swimmers from getting in too deep.
Seven people had to be rescued from rip currents in four separate incidents, as of Wednesday evening. That’s according to Tom Gill, Chief Deputy with Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service. Gill said that number could have been much higher, if it weren’t for the flags or the guards’ close watch.
He said the decision to put up a rip current warning and fly the “water is dangerous” red flags was made because winds from the northeast paired with waves from Hurricane Cristobal made for unsafe conditions.
“The bigger the waves, the higher the winds, the stronger the rip currents,” Gill said. “These can be as bad as they can get, and we don’t really want to test it.”
Even surfers – who like big waves – said Wednesday’s chop was hard to handle.
“It’s definitely a little more storm surfy there, a little more water moving on. It’s definitely rougher than it usually is,” said one local surfer.
Scotty Logue and his wife drove two and a half hours from western Virginia to spend the day at the Oceanfront. They say the clear blue sky made them think the water would be calm too.
“So when we showed up and it was so rough, I was like ‘aw man’,” Logue told WAVY.com’s Deanna LeBlanc.
But Logue, who once got caught in a rip current that he called almost deadly, and his wife now keep a close eye on their six children.
“I’ve taught them what to do in case, but I still want to make sure they don’t get put in the same situation that i was put in,” he said.
“It’s just extremely unsafe for any swimmer to be in the water right now,” Gill said.
Guards will assess conditions Thursday morning and may decide to keep the red flags up.