Tybee Island to stop flying double red flags, open beaches to swimmers

Tybee Island to stop flying double red flags, open beaches to swimmers

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - It looks like Hurricane Florence will miss Tybee Island and other Georgia islands.

Lifeguards started flying double red flags on Wednesday, prohibiting swimmers from entering the water, but Friday they removed them and reopened the beach.

The biggest concern and reason for the flags was rip currents. The yellow flag is flying now, which means there is a medium hazard. It's important to still be cautious and avoid swimming alone. Lifeguards will be out on the beach throughout the weekend. They won't be in the stands watching for people, but they will be on buggies and four-wheelers patrolling the beach.

Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman says the chance for rain and flooding is starting to diminish which is a great thing for Tybee.

"The possibility for tropical storm force winds is looking less and less likely, which is all good," the mayor said. "Bad for people up north but good for us. Rip current risk is still there although right now the seas are relatively calm. That could change as this thing moves a little further to the south."

We spoke to one man from Texas who was visiting Charleston and was evacuated to Tybee because of the hurricane. He says Tybee is like a sigh of relief after being in South Carolina.

"I think everyone is having a great time at the beach," Tim Glanzman said. "I think a lot more people are relaxed, so coming from someplace where we had to evacuate and coming here, it feels much better. Glad to know the threat is gone here and everyone is having a pretty good time. We're enjoying it. The island is fantastic."

Some beachgoers say the waves were very small and they didn't see the need for the red flags, but they know it's not about what you can see - it's about what you can't see under the water.

"I've never seen the water this calm. I've been coming down here for years and I've never seen it so smooth," said local, Randy Shuman. It's kind of strange, but it's nice. You can get out in the water but it's kind of weird that it's so smooth. It's kind of unusual. It's a nice day to be out here though."

Those yellow flags will continue to fly unless lifeguards see that people need to stay out of the water. They want you to remember to look for the flags and pay close attention while you're in the water.

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