Beach goers urged to stay out of the water for now

MOREHEAD CITY, NC (WITN) Coastal waters are experiencing high levels of bacteria in the wake of Hurricane Florence, making it dangerous for beach goers to go swimming, and some water quality officials were just able to get back to work Thursday in Morehead City.

They're testing for a bacteria called Enterococci. Its presence indicates the likelihood of other bacteria and pathogens dangerous to the public.

A sample exceeding certain levels will prompt a public notification that swimming standards have been compromised, but that's not stopping some from getting into the ocean.

James Meadows from Ohio says, "It's too hot not to be, and working, not being able to go swimming? I've got to swim."

Because of storm damage to their labs, Thursday was the first day state officials could begin obtaining samples, but preliminary results from the Coastal Federation already show the presence of high bacteria.

J.D. Potts, Recreational Water Quality Program Manager says, "That's sort of what we expected to see, elevated bacterial numbers like that in the sound side, and in some instances the ocean side."

Natural disaster often cause damage to treatment plants, lift stations, as well as septic systems, all of which lead to polluted waters.

With the risk of flu-like symptoms, others are heeding the warnings to stay out of the water.

Janet Heck of Kinston says, "We've seen on Facebook we're not supposed to enter the water, I don't really go into the water that much."

Officials began their testing Thursday at Topsail Island as well as the Bogue Inlet. They say they should have those results back Friday, but are struggling to get to the southern beaches like Wrightsville Beach all the way to Sunset Beach because their Wilmington lab is still closed, so they say it could take some time to gather all the information they need.