BREAKING | Lewes beaches will be unguarded this season as city faces lifeguard shortage

The City of Lewes has announced that its beaches will be unguarded this season as officials have been unable to recruit certified lifeguards.

TV Delmarva’s Rob Petree spoke to Lewes City Manager Ann Marie Townshend who said the city has went above and beyond to recruit lifeguards, but has ultimately been unable to attract the certified staff and as a result both Savannah Beach and Johnnie Walker Beach will be unguarded this season.

“We have been unable to recruit sufficient lifeguards to effectively guard the beaches,” Townshend said. “We only had two lifeguards returning from last year and, of those who applied this season, only one was certified.”

In past years, the City of Lewes has employed at least ten active lifeguards to protect and serve on the beaches. Last year, the city was short by two, and while they made due with what they could in 2021, many of their lifeguards left the town early to return to college.

City officials took several steps to try to recruit lifeguards ahead of this year’s season, including increasing the starting wage for their lifeguards from $13 an hour to $16, and calling around to other municipalities to see if they could spare some of their lifeguards to help out. Ultimately, all efforts fell short.

Lewes City Councilman Khalil Saliba issued the following statement to WGMD News where it appears that the ‘icing on the cake’ to this issue was when it was learned that their long-time lifeguard captain would not be returning this season.

“There has been an almost frantic effort to recruit more guards but will no luck,” Saliba said in the statement to WGMD. “Our Captain of nearly 18 years abruptly left for a new job which hurt as she was instrumental in recruitment. The worker shortage has even hit what used to be a very desirable summer job.”

The City is taking all available measures at this time to develop a communication strategy to ensure that the public is aware of that the beaches will be unguarded this season. Signage will be erected on the beach and public awareness efforts will be underway moving forward.

“It’s better to not do it than to do it poorly,” Townshend concluded. “Lives could be at risk.”

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