Search and rescue officials urge to take care of these tubes on the Cowichan River

With the Canada Day long weekend fast approaching, rescue teams are warning those considering tubing in the Cowichan River.

The Cowichan River is now flowing faster and two and a half times higher than it was a year ago at this time, following five years of drought.

Joe Saysell, who lives near the Cowichan River, says he can’t believe how high and fast the river is.

“Almost mind-boggling. I couldn’t believe how hard it was raining all the time, it kept raining. It’s an ideal year for fry,” he said, adding. “We need all the fish we can get because the numbers are so low.”

In addition to the high waters, the delicate salmon fry are also finding new habitat in the many trees downed by record flooding last fall.

Officials say trees have fallen on most stretches of the river and Cowichan Search and Rescue warning tubers are heading for the water to be aware of the danger.

“In November we had a lot of rain and flooding that knocked down a lot of wood,” said Trevor Paterson of the Cowichan Search and Rescue swiftwater rescue team. “So almost every section of the Cowichan River has logs blocking some or all of the river, which is very dangerous. If you get stuck in a traffic jam, there is real potential for death.

The warning comes after crews were called down the river to rescue a family of five who got caught in fallen trees.

“Four adults and a young child were up river and they hit some logs and we were able to get them out,” Paterson said.

Tubers are advised to stick to the stretch of river between Lake Cowichan and Little Beach, officials said.

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