If you ask Nueces County Parks Director Scott Cross what his concerns are about Labor Day Weekend on North Padre Island, COVID-19 isn't his first answer. Rather, it's a danger that's familiar to people who live along the coast.
“The biggest concern for people who are not local, who are coming in from out of town, are going to be the rip currents," he said. "You know, people really need to pay attention to that."
His concern is justified if more tourists such as Sedona Zamora and Diana Hersman from Austin have the same lack of knowledge. After learning about the strong streams of surf that can drag swimmers out to sea Friday, the two friends said they'd take precautions.
“(I will) not go too far out (into the water),” Hersman said.
“Yeah, (I will) stay as close as possible to the shore,” Zamora added.
Cross also worries about people breaking the rules and bringing glass containers to the beach. He said once or twice a year, someone gets seriously cut, which is not a surprise to part-time island resident Kaaren Harper.
"We just threw a broken bottle away on our walk," she said while walking the beach with her husband. "So yes, people are unfortunately bringing glass, and they shouldn’t.”
To keep up with an unusually high volume of trash left on beaches, Cross said he doubled the number of garbage cans from 75 to 150. But he said he continues to see litter pile up, so he asks you to take your trash with you when you leave if possible.
To keep up with the high volume of car and truck traffic, Cross modified driving on the beach in one popular location. Traffic is one way headed south from Whitecap Boulevard to Beach Access Road 4 during the holiday weekend.
The city also has made an adjustment in hopes of improving the flow of traffic on Park Road 22 once drivers cross over the JFK Causeway, and onto the island. The first traffic light those drivers encounter is at Aquarius Street. It will remain green all weekend, with detours in place for use by neighborhood residents.
“(The measure has helped) pretty considerably," City Manager Peter Zanoni said. "It’s smoothed (traffic) out substantially.”
One more tip for people who plan to drive to the beach -- don't plan on parking at Bob Hall Pier. The pier, its parking lot, and the beach near them still are closed because of the presence of debris left behind by Hurricane Hanna.