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Despite warnings from the Brevard County Emergency Management Department to avoid beaches over the weekend and erosion from Hurricane Nicol impairing access to much of Brevard’s coast, hundreds of people turned up on Saturday. I went to the beach to search for treasure and ride stormy waves.
Early Saturday morning, Roger Bells walked along the shore just north of the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier with a metal detector. A Virginia resident said he hoped to strike for gold, but found only “a lot of junk”.
A similarly hopeful Orlando’s David Johnson and his sister scanned the sand with a metal detector just south of the Westgate Pier. They found 27 cents, but continued to search.
Later in the day, at Melbourne’s Paradise Beach, Sandy Conboy went out with his sister to scavenge for sea glass and trash. The two drove up from St. Her Cloud for a walk on the beach and found a small handful of green and brown glass.
“We do it regularly,” she said, adding that she and her sister come to the beach about once a month.
Conboy held a stick with a small strainer in one hand. This is a tool she made to help sift seagrass and small debris out of the sand. In the other she held a shattered piece of metal with a sharp edge. She wasn’t sure what it was, but she expected it might have been a can of Budweiser.
“If someone without shoes steps on it, it will hurt them, so I just hold it until it reaches the trash can,” she said.
One of the crossings to the beach was temporarily closed on Saturday, but that didn’t stop a crowd of about 100 people from hanging out on the sand to sunbathe, swim and walk along the shore.
But not everything was calm on the beach. About 100 yards away from where Conboy and her sister were standing and sifting through the sand, two surfers pulled a group of five swimmers away from the rip current for about 10 minutes before the lifeguards arrived. For a minute, I helped keep them safe.
Rip currents are just one reason Brevard County Emergency Management Officer John Scott advised against going to the beach on weekends.
“Dangerous beach conditions, rip currents, high waves, large waves continuing and there may even be debris in the water,” Scott said at a Friday afternoon briefing. added that the crossover was damaged and that the erosion had left a “fairly large cliff” in the sand.
“It’s really not a good weekend to go to the beach,” he said. “We want people to avoid it.”
Two Indian surfers, Steve Trentadue and Elliot Grozan, hit the beach every day and sometimes face dangerous situations. They said rip currents are a common hazard while on the water and it’s important to know how to get out of them.
“People don’t realize you can’t swim. You have to swim parallel,” said Trentadue.
“There’s no one[on the rip current],” Grozan said. “Not even the strongest swimmer.”
Much of Paradise Beach and Cocoa Beach suffered minimal damage, but the rest of Brevard County suffered less damage.
As of Friday afternoon, the county had received 175 reports from individuals of storm damage.
But Scott said a 23-county damage assessment team spread out across the county on Friday to study the impact of Nicole on homes and businesses and found that most of the county survived the storm and was not significantly affected. I understand.
“In a general sense, especially when you get off of what’s on the beachline, we’ve been doing really well as a county,” Scott said.
Brevard County officials are encouraging people whose property or home was damaged because of Nicole to submit photos and a description of the damage. http://www.crisistrack.com/public/brevardFL/request.html)
The county also said 73 people have sought help through a home cleanup hotline set up to help those affected by Hurricane Nicole. For assistance, please call 800-451-1954.
Volunteers may be able to help cut down fallen trees. Removal of drywall, flooring, and appliances. tarp roofs; and mildew relief.
“This is a service that connects volunteer organizations with residents who have suffered damage and have neither the ability nor the means to recover from it,” said Scott. The service is free, but there are no guarantees.
Staff Writer Dave Berman and Staff Photographer Malcolm Denemark contributed to this report.
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