Four heavy duty water barricades were interlocked and stretched across Boddeker Drive just before the entrance to East Beach.
Capt. Tony Pryor sat in his Beach Patrol truck working security. His job was to keep cars from entering East Beach.
In years past, we’ve had problems in the beach parks after The Strand area was swept clean of the late-night party crowd. There have been tons of litter and glass bottles, occasional fights and damage to the beach pavilion. Better to just keep everyone out.
As Pryor sat just inside the entrance, a Lexus came blasting down the road until it stopped at the barricade.
Revving its engine, it picked up speed as it quickly turned and shot up the sand dune landing inside of the park. Pryor hit the overhead lights and the car came to a stop, rolling down the window.
“What?” shouted the driver.
“The park is closed,” Pryor said. “You’re not allowed to be in here.”
The driver looked at him for a long minute. Then he said, “How am I supposed to get out?”
A day earlier, Officer Kris Pompa led a work crew to get all the signs that had fallen along the entire beach front back in place before Spring Break hit. Beach Patrol maintains some 230 signs along the 32 miles of Galveston Beach as well as along the ship channel and San Luis Pass.
As you would imagine, it requires a great deal of effort and resources to keep them all up. Friday afternoon, he came back tired from working all day, but seemed happy.
“All the signs are up, Chief,” he said as he drove off.
Monday, Pompa was assigned to a patrol shift. During the month of February, this means that he and another person patrol the entire beach front. They mostly work the seawall and Stewart and Apffel beach parks, but at least once they patrol the entire beach along the West End from the San Luis Pass all the way to the western tip of the seawall.
As they made it back to Stewart Beach, I saw Pompa in the parking lot. He shook his head and laughed when he told me that two of the new signs and posts that his crew had painstakingly erected and used a water jet to sink 6 feet into the sand had been ripped out and burned for firewood.
These signs warn people about how dangerous the waters are in the pass and are critical in our attempt to keep people from drowning there.
It’s hard at times to maintain the energy, patience and positive attitude to do the job that Pryor and Pompa do.
Dealing with the public can be frustrating because you often have more interaction with the people who don’t show others respect.
Most of our staff, especially Pryor and Pompa, are good at finding humor in the tough parts and focus on the millions who enjoy the beach in a positive way each year.