Operation Safe & Sound is a collaborative effort by Galveston area emergency response agencies to help keep islanders and visitors safe over the July 4th holiday.
Peter Davis with the Galveston Island Beach Patrol says extra signs are being posted all over San Luis Pass warning people to stay out of the water if there’s no life guard present:
“San Luis Pass, which is a really, really dangerous area to swim in, and the East End, where the Ship Channel is. And those two ends of the island are extremely dangerous because of all the tidal flow, and all the water that funnels through there. The normal beach front, our big issue is going to be the rip currents by the rock jetties and we put a lot of resources of our own into that, but we’re spread pretty thin of these big holiday weekends, so this will make a huge difference for us.”
David Popov is emergency management coordinator for Galveston County.
“We have two things that we’re concerned about this weekend. The first thing we’re concerned about is people drowning here at San Luis Pass. The second thing that we’re concerned about is wildfires. As you noticed the fields and the grasses have dried out, and we’re not expecting rain until after the 4th. So, that is going put a stress on the emergency responders, all the way from High Island to San Luis Pass.”
The idea is to have volunteers who are trained in search and rescue and wildlife control, and to form an incident management team to respond to emergencies.
He says five people have drowned at San Luis Pass since Memorial Day.
“The numbers are numbers, the numbers don’t lie. I brought up this idea to the fire chiefs in the area and the beach patrol, and I said ‘you know, there are 5 people, and that’s enough’. We have the 4th of July weekend coming up and, being that people are going to stretch that to a four day weekend, hotels are full and the rentals look pretty full and, we don’t want that to happen again.”
Overflight stock video shot June 27, 2013, for publicizing the dangers of swimming off San Luis Pass. Video provided by U.S. Coast Guard.
He adds summer vacations are a time to think about nothing else.
“When people are on vacation, they think about vacation things, and one of the reminders for today is, ‘Let’s be safe.’ If you’re going to use fireworks, let’s be safe with fireworks, and keep in mind that it’s dry out there. If you’re going to swim, swim by a lifeguard. It’s that simple.”