On The Beach

I guess with the water hitting the 70’s while still in February, any lingering doubts about the validity of global warming have literally melted away.

With the warm weather came the crowds in all their diverse glory. Any kind of person you can imagine seems to end up on our beaches. Being within striking range of the most diverse city in the US, this is inevitable. With warmer water and increased crowds it’s becoming more and more evident that we’re going to have to find a way to expand tower lifeguard coverage into February, the second half of October, and probably weekends in November.

There is a part of me that enjoys the ever shrinking time of year we have our island sandbar to ourselves. But when the masses arrive I feel a certain elation. I’m proud to be a 7th generation Galvestonian and our history of immigrant groups that came here voluntarily and involuntarily, and all the mixing, swirl, strength, and tolerance that comes with our rich history.

I think that’s why I love our beach, and the whole coastline of Texas, so much. Not only do we welcome everyone, but our state codified this in the Texas Open Beaches act to ensure that our natural resource is accessible for everyone who wants to enjoy it. Our state has the admirable distinction of legally providing the public with the greatest amount of access to the beach of any of the states in the country.  No small feat.

The beach is a special place and people flock here for different reasons. And it’s an absolute privilege for my staff and I to protect, support, and at times rescue the public who comes to our beach.

But with all that access and the diverse masses that visit, comes some pretty complicated situations. The unspeakable tragedy where a Honduran family came to the States to earn enough money to bring their two twin boys to the US so they could pursue the American dream, only to have them die in our waters is a poignant example.

As we activated a massive search involving so many partner groups, we did the best we could to keep the family updated and supported. The Survivor Support Network, comprised almost exclusively of volunteers, did such an incredible job of providing counselors, translators, and clergy. They also worked with LULAC and several local businesses to secure lodging, meeting rooms, and meals.

Meanwhile on the beach, the County Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) of volunteers,  spent hours and days working tirelessly along with the local Police, Fire, EMS, the Coast Guard, Equisearch, and many others in order to do their part in helping this family somehow find closure to this unspeakable tragedy.

Seeing how many step forward to help this family renews our faith. Seeing the family go through this renews our commitment to do everything in our power to prevent similar incidents from happening.