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Jones Beach closed to swimming due to high tide floods and rough waters

Will Long Island beaches be open for Labor Day weekend?
Will Long Island beaches be open for Labor Day weekend? 02:42

WANTAGH, N.Y. -- Ahead of Labor Day weekend, several area beaches remained closed for swimming Thursday because of high surf and hazardous rip currents.

CBS New York spoke with the regional director of New York State Parks on Thursday. He said he is optimistic that by Friday the beaches will reopen.

On Wednesday, swimming was prohibited at Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Hither Hills due to strong rip currents from the tropical systems. On Thursday, however, the flooding was the issue.

Chopper 2 flew above a flooded out Jones Beach and saw much of Field 6 swallowed by water. State park officials said the inundation wasn't isolated to just that spot.

"Here at Jones Beach, from Field 6 all the way to Field 2, it's basically underwater expect for small patches of sand," Regional Director George Gorman said.

Watch Jennifer McLogan's report

Hurricanes, high tides lead to flooding at Jones Beach 02:47

Bulldozers were brought in to cut a trench in the expansive sand area.

"Thank God our bulldozer operator has 30 years' experience. So they opened up a trench so the water can go right out into the Atlantic Ocean," Gorman said.

It was a dramatic sight as hundreds of thousands of gallons of water retreated into the ocean. Officials said it could take days to clear out all the floodwaters. A berm of sand was built into temporary dunes in the central mall area.

"Nature is amazing in itself because she controls everything," one person said.

"We still have dangerous surf conditions. We have extreme rip currents," Gorman said.

As a result, swimming was off-limits again at Jones Beach and other many South Shore beaches.

"We are little bit bummed, ourselves, but it's alright. Got to be safe," Oyster Bay parent Daniel Mendoza said.

Chopper 2 Flying

Chopper 2 is checking out stories around the area, including high surf and flooding at Jones Beach. See more streaming on CBS News New York:

Posted by CBS New York on Thursday, August 31, 2023

The water started to rise on Wednesday night. Video shows it flooding out the pit of the Jones Beach amphitheater as the Smashing Pumpkins concert was going on. Some said there was up to a foot of water.

CBS New York meteorologists said the coastal flooding was caused by both the tropical systems and the super moon that occurred overnight. It's a combination that enhances high tides and it's similar to the mix that made Superstorm Sandy so severe, which many at the beach compared the flooding to.

"Unusual to come over and see basically the boardwalk become waterfront property," said Pat Colangelo of Bellmore. "From Sandy, other than that, worst I have seen."

"It is a little crazy, yeah, but that's the nature of nature," added Jack Chin of Merrick.

Lifeguards roped off the floodwaters and made sure beachgoers stayed only on small patches of the beach.

The flood was surprising to a group of seniors from Westbury High School who were at the beach for their "senior sunrise."

"Seeing the ocean so close to us was kind of a shock. We weren't expecting it," Julissa St. Hilaire said.

They stayed positive.

"At least we didn't have to walk all the way out there, and we could be closer together as a class," St. Hilaire said.

There was another group of kids also trying to make the best of the situation, getting in one last beach day before they head back to school next week.

"We still have sand and the sand is fun to play with. You can make sand castles," said Xavier Moran of Rosedale.

The only problem for their parents was there was no access to the beach to rinse it all off.

Concessionaires were disappointed by the turnout on Thursday due to rip current and flooding closures.

"Hopefully, it recedes so people can enjoy at least the last few days of the beach," Westbury beachgoer Floyd Ewing said.

The Parks Department says they'll reassess Friday morning whether or not to open beaches for swimming.

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