VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – High swells and large debris along beaches in Volusia County prompted officials to fly a double red flag Friday, meaning no one could enter the water.
Marris said a double red flag is only flown once or twice a year.
Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue public information officer Tamra Marris said driftwood, mangrove root systems, a tire, a door, appliances and other items were found in the water and on the beach Friday.
She said the extremely large surf during the past few days has caused the debris to wash ashore, making it too dangerous to enter the water.
On Thursday, officials reported swells between 9 and 11 feet high and wind gusts up to 25 mph.
“It definitely has to do with the storms that have come through,” Marris said, namely tropical systems and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.
The storms also stirred up a large amount of seaweed. Officials said the seaweed will remain on the beach, as it helps to build up dunes, but contractors are already working to pick up debris that doesn't belong.
Officials said the seaweed serves as homes for young sea turtles in the ocean and that when it washes ashore, the sea turtles are often brought with it.
"All sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered, so it is imperative these young sea turtles be recovered and brought to care rather than left on the beach or placed back in the ocean," beach officials said.
Anyone who finds a sea turtle on the beach is asked not to put it back into the water, but to bring it to the nearest lifeguard tower or station on a damp towel.
Beach officials said Saturday morning that a single red flag was being flown, meaning that conditions in the water were hazardous. They hope to reopen vehicle access ramps by the afternoon for beach driving in the following areas:
● Granada Avenue to Milsap
● Zelda to Seabreeze Boulevard
● International Speedway Boulevard to Silver Beach
● Florida Shores Boulevard to Amelia Avenue
● Beach Street to the jetty
● In New Smyrna Beach, Beachway to the jetty
Potential beachgoers are advised to check Volusia.org/beach for updates.