After flooding, boaters urged to use ‘extreme caution’ Labor Day weekend; dangerous debris likely in lakes, rivers

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RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) encourages recreational boaters to use extreme caution this upcoming Labor Day weekend since recent rainfall has caused flooding and extremely high water levels on area rivers and lakes.

DWR Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) have responded to and worked several boating
incidents that have resulted in fatalities and injuries to boaters who have attempted to navigate
waters that were affected by heavy rains creating significantly higher than normal water
levels, dangerously swift current and trash and other debris that could be floating
on the surface or just below the waterline.

“Disregarding safety messages and attempting to boat on rising or flooded waters not only puts
the boaters at risk, but also our CPOs and other first responders that are called to rescue them.”

Major Scott Naff, DWR’s Conservation Police

If you are a canoer, kayaker or other recreational boater and chose to launch on any river, DWR
has these tips:

  • Think before you go. Always check local river conditions. A resource for this is the American Whitewater website:
  • Check your local weather forecast. Pop-up storms can cause flash flooding and water levels can change drastically and quickly.
  • Check the River and Lake conditions with the National Weather Service.
  • Be aware that it is possible that high water will force the temporary closing of some boat ramps.
  • Have a plan and share your plan with someone who knows where you will be and when to expect you to return.
  • Make sure you have the proper equipment onboard and that you wear a properly sized and fitted life jacket.

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