Jersey Shore beaches "in great shape" for Memorial Day Weekend, but some concern over rip currents
ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season and preparations down the Jersey Shore are well underway.
Thursday, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection held its annual "state of the shore" address before visitors hit the beaches.
The report focused on ocean water quality and coastal erosion during the colder months. Research found the mild offseason helped limit the amount of beach erosion and that the ocean water is the best it's ever been.
It was a relatively mild winter, which New Jersey DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said really helped.
"Our beaches are in great shape for this summer season. We've got the New Jersey DEP beach monitoring team in full effect. The water quality is excellent, as we've seen in recent years. Further improvements, a deep point of Jersey pride that our efforts to ensure the cleanliness of our beaches are making them ready to welcome an incredible amount of visitors for an awesome New Jersey summer," said LaTourette.
Environmental experts who wrote the report said shore towns have done incredible jobs maintaining beaches since Superstorm Sandy.
Dangers of rip currents
DEP is concerned about rip currents, which kill about six people each year.
"I think that's the danger, is the fact that it's not necessarily obvious. So those rip currents are there and people get stuck and they quite frequently need to be rescued," said Dr. John Miller, of Stevens Institute of Technology.
Experts said rip currents are more dangerous than sharks.
"You can kind of see the water, it's white and kind of moving out towards the waves and you also see the waves are not breaking," said Dr. Jon Miller, who helped research for the DEP report.
Miller said no one should ever swim in the ocean without a lifeguard on duty, but swimmers should know how to get out of a rip current, just in case.
"You want to swim parallel to the shore or along the shoreline until you get out of the rip current, and then eventually work your way back. But you don't want to fight against it," said Miller.
Memorial Day Weekend is generally with lifeguards come on duty.
Murphy proposes $100 million boardwalk plan
The Asbury Park Boardwalk was bustling with people ready for summer to begin.
"Sunny, finally. A little cooler. I'm hoping that it will get a little warmer," said Danielle Piluso.
"It's beautiful, you know. There's not too many birds, which is nice because we can snack in peace. No flies. The waves are amazing," said Kelsey Sallemi.
Some beachgoers hoped for warmer water.
"I tried to put my feet in. It was like freezing," one person said.
Gov. Phil Murphy took a tour of the boardwalk and mingled with business owners after unveiling a $100 million proposal in the state budget to keep boardwalks along the shore in top shape.
"Getting the boardwalks tuned up, making them more resilient, or whatever repairs or fixing need to be done. The shore is an extraordinary gem for our state," said Murphy.
The boardwalk proposal will also help businesses by bringing people to shore communities, according to Murphy, who plans on using American Rescue Plan money to fund it.
While some business owners told Murphy it's a good idea, it remains to be seen if legislators in Trenton will go for it.
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