WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBS 2) – Jones Beach is a summer destination that, on a typical holiday weekend, will see hundreds of thousands of visitors, but that’s not the case this Labor Day.
Several sections of the beach were again closed due to severe flooding on Sunday, compliments of Hurricane Earl.
Crowds were sparse Sunday as Earl left behind flooding and damage at Jones Beach.
The Gibson family unexpectedly celebrated the holiday in a unique way at the historic beach, despite the challenges posed in the aftermath of the hurricane.
“We’re making the best of it,” Rufus Gibson, of Brooklyn, said.
Emergency front-end loaders moved across the spectacular seven-mile stretch of world-famous beach, battling blowing sand and surf. Lifeguards restricted swimming and helped dig trenches to move the ocean water back into the Atlantic.
“Over here we have the central mall area, and as you can see, we have a lot of ponding of water; typically, this would all be sandy beaches,” Sue Guliani, director of Jones Beach State Park, said. “We have a power vault that is behind the shuffleboard courts that flooded with water, so we don’t have some lights down in the games area. The band shell right now is out of electricity.”
Jones is the most popular and heavily visited beach on the entire east coast. The last blast of summer should bring a crowd of 250,000, but Earl ruined that for this Labor Day weekend.
There’s flooding under the boardwalk, on the pitch-and-putt golf course, basketball and tennis courts, and major parking fields across from the central mall.
Once families got over the shock of wading through water to get to the beach, they said they had a blast.
The grills were flooded too, so beachgoers had to bring their own picnic.
Three friends from New York City were at first reluctant to meet at Jones Beach, but said it ended up being worth the effort.
“We came anyway, despite the hurricane,” one said.
“We get to enjoy the last real weekend of summer,” said another.
Due to a lack of power, treacherous winds and heavy surf, Jones Beach will close at dusk on Sunday and Monday, rather than midnight.
Despite some restricted access, Jones Beach will be open on Monday and officials urge families to come on out to enjoy the beautiful weather – and smaller crowds.