Close to 80,000 people storm Tybee Island beaches over holiday weekend

Local News

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV)- Tybee Island once again experienced massive crowds on their beaches. City leaders said they counted nearly 38,000 cars and estimate atleast 80,000 people were on and around the beach.

The Department of Natural Resources, Georgia State patrol and Tybee police had all hands on deck this. They did their best managing the crowds, but say the island is simply not equipped to handle this many people.

“We are trying to survive and live in an environment that is not situated for thousands upon thousands individuals coming in,” said Demery Bishop, 13 year Tybee resident.

People like Bishop who call Tybee home said this weekends crowds were surreal. He said cities beaches were packed with out of towners, many who chose not to practice social distancing.

“It’s almost like they get here and as soon as they cross Lazaretto Creek like okay we are in fantasy land and there are no rules,” said Bishop, “that does not apply and that creates a big issue for us, the residents.”

Mayor Shirley Sessions said the influx can often lead to severe parking issues and excessive trash on the beach.

“Those were the calls that I got from people who were not happy citizens, who were not happy and people who’ve continued to see the lack of space distancing,” said Sessions.

The city doesn’t have a code enforcement division, meaning police have to carry the load. Bishop thinks the extra hand could make all the difference.

“We’ve got to be sure that we are addressing our local issues our local trash problems, the little issues, the tourist issues,” said Bishop, “police control just the whole host of things that cities have.”

Tybee Police did have the help of two state agencies over the weekend. Sessions said they were able to keep crowds under control and are learning best practices as they go.

“I think people are really beginning to understand that there is only so much we can do that we have to have people take personal responsibility,” said Sessions.

Sessions saidthey are once again expecting large crowds for the Fourth of July, which is why canceling the islands fireworks was absolutely necessary.

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