In the aftermath of Andrea, many Long Island beaches closed due to contaminated water

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jun 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-08 18:42:02-04

Island Park, LONG ISLAND (PIX11) — What was left of Tropical Storm Andrea dumped buckets of rain on Nassau County as it passed through the tri-state area. But as the rain receded and the skies cleared, the water clouded with contaminants, prompting Nassau County to close almost 20 beaches contaminated with bacteria.

“You’ll have animal feces, you’ll have chemicals from lawns, you’ll have all sorts of gasoline, other products, whatever might be laying in the street,” said Dr. Bill Lipsky, an Infectious diseases specialist.

Lipsky specializes in infectious diseases. He says heavy rains usually wash  if people are exposed to the contaminated water it could cause any number of symptoms ranging from diarrhea and stomach cramps to more serious infections.  Lipsky says he saw the same problems during Sandy.

“In fact I treated people in the hospital that had some infections, prior small infections on the leg that, because of their exposure to the water, exploded,” he said.

But people who live near the affected beaches say the county always shuts them down after heavy rains.  After a day or two, when the contaminants have been swept out to sea, they say most people are right back in the water.

“It’s been happening for years, so I feel like if it was really that big of a problem we would have known by now,” Alyssa Esposito, an Island Park resident said.

Barring any rain today, the county said they expected to reopen the beaches Sunday morning.

But Lipsky said he’d think twice before jumping back in. “I think that this weekend is probably shot for the bathers, especially tomorrow, when it’s supposed to be a nice day.”

Several of the beaches listed on the county closings don’t officially open until next week, and Lipsky said by then any potentially dangerous bacteria would have had more than enough time to disperse.