The New York State Parks Department is bracing for Hurricane Irene this weekend and trying its best to minimize damage at Jones Beach.
New York State Parks spokesman George Gorman said all beach equipment such as lifeguard chairs and trash cans are being removed from the beach in preparation for strong winds. Gorman said much of the beach equipment is being moved to other state parks in the region like Hempstead Lake State Park in West Hempstead, Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale and Valley Stream State Park.
“We’re getting our equipment up to higher ground moving it to parks in the middle of the island,” said Gorman.
Parks workers are also hard at work creating sandbag walls to try and prevent major flooding and beach erosion, according to Gorman.
Last September, Hurricane Earl hit off the coast of Long Island causing heavy surf and parts of Jones Beach to get flooded.
Gorman said Jones Beach is remaining open to swimmers on Friday. He said Friday has featured higher surf with waves heights at about three to four feet.
Jones Beach along with all other Long Island state parks will be closed Saturday at 5 p.m. and remain shut down until further notice because of the projected path with Hurricane Irene. Launching of boats, kayaks, and canoes will be suspended after 8 a.m. on Saturday.
The U.S. Coast Guard Station Jones Beach in Freeport is also taking precautions for Hurricane Irene by evacuating all of its boats. Any necessary rescues attempts the coast guard is called for during the storm will be conducted by air via helicopter or plane, according to Officer Terry Lathrop.
"We really need to keep people out of the water," said Lathrop. "We ask people to please seek shelter until the storm has passed."