James River crests over 9 feet create dangerous conditions

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – Goochland Fire Rescue rescued five people and a dog in two separate incidents over the weekend. The Richmond Fire Department’s water rescue team also attended several water rescues over Memorial Day weekend, most of them in Belle Isle.

The National Weather Service reported that the James River crested slightly above 9 feet on Memorial Day, creating dangerous conditions for those on the water.

Water levels were so high that Waterfront RVA, a company that rents out kayaks and paddle boards for people to use on the river, had to launch people into the river from a different location.

“We’re moving our operations out of town where the water is flat…we’re moving away from those rapids under the Teapot Bridge,” said Benjamin Moore, owner of Waterfront RVA.

Waterfront RVA said the high water levels are due to too much rain. They expect levels to drop by Thursday.

“The rapids that run through Richmond are getting too dangerous to send people who have never paddled before,” Moore said.

Officials say that when the James is 9 feet or more, only professionals such as water rescue teams or those with whitewater rafting experience should be on the river. When the water level reaches five feet or more, rescue teams say people should wear life jackets for all water activities.

“Below 5ft we recommend using life jackets, especially on children,” said Mark Irwin of the Richmond Fire Department’s Water Rescue Team.

If you fall in the water, remember the phrase “nose up, toes up”. Lie on your back and keep your hands and feet above the water to avoid getting stuck.

“What that causes is that when your foot is caught, the pressure of the river pushes you down, and it’s extremely difficult to get out of it,” Irwin said.

The Richmond Fire Water Rescue Team says people should never do anything alone on the water. If something happens, you’re more likely to be rescued if someone in your party can call for help.

Emergency call boxes for contacting the police are located at Pony Pasture and Belle Isle.

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