Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Riptide Danger in the Rockaways by Carolina Leid -

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If you want to know what a rip current feels like ask Debbie Ryerson. She almost died in one last year.

"I thought I was dead. I really thought it was going to take me out," she said. "Every time I would try to get up the tide would pull me back under."

So far this year six people drowned off the Rockaway coast because of strong rip currents.

That's compared to two drownings last year and one in 2007.


State Representative Anthony Weiner helped get funding for a four million dollar beach erosion study.

He wants the Army Corps of Engineers to expand that study to include a look at safety measures to prevent deadly rip tides.

"Maybe over the years there have been some channels that have been built that we never noticed before," Weiner said.

The study originally focused on adding groin fields. They're designed to trap and retain sand.

The plan is while engineers work on that, they'll also take a look at why this stretch has so many rip currents.

But state and local leaders say there will never be a total fix. That's something most swimmers respect.

"There's no solution. Mother Nature is Mother Nature. You can't stop her," Deirdre Cotto of Jersey City said.

The key is following the rules. When the lifeguards leave, get out of the water.

"I really think the currents are different at night. During the day you have to watch yourself too, but you have lifeguards," Sal Ferranti of Howard Beach said.

Debbie Ryerson always swam with lifeguards around, but after her scare she just watches from her beach chair.

"I won't go back in the water, and I love the water," she said.