OFFICIALS: Stay Out of Watering Holes, Rivers This Holiday Weekend

Heavy Rain Leads to Rushing, Dangerous Waters

RICHMOND, Vt,. - Emergency officials are urging residents and visitors to avoid swimming holes, rivers and brooks this holiday weekend due to heavy rains and swift waters.

Though some popular swimming holes, including Huntington Gorge, are visibly rushing, some officials are concerned people will still brave the waters.

"Most of the accidents we see are from people overestimating their abilities and underestimating the power of the water,” said Mike Akerlind, a rescue specialist with Colchester Technical Rescue.

Akerlind says the crew is making sure the trucks and gear are in order ahead of what is expected to be a busy weekend for rescue personnel.

“Just looking at the surface current, it may not look like it's moving that fast, the fastest water is going to be in the middle of the river, the fastest water is going to be around a bend in the river,” said Akerlind.

He, along with other experts, say there should be no swimming, kayaking or canoeing in any moving water through at least July 4th.

National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Scott Whittier says many areas have seen 3-4 inches of rain in the past two weeks.

"Just on the rain that has happened, there's going to be dangers through the holiday weekend, but with more rain expected come [Friday] and especially on Saturday, those conditions will likely be dangerous for all of next week at the watering holes,” he said. “When you get that much rainfall in that short of time, the water levels, the rivers and stuff, will be very high and dangerous."

Whittier says personal flotation devices are a must.

“That current can easily slip you away and the water temperature is cold as well so it may take them awhile to get on a canoe or kayak and if you're exposed to very cool temperatures, your muscles don't react as much and it makes it even more difficult,” he said.

The water is too murky to know what lies beneath.

“With all the rainfall, it's picking up a lot of dirt and sediment out of the soil and washing it all downstream, so there's likely to be branches or even trees that are obscured under the water,” said Neil Van Dyke, search and rescue coordinator for the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

Officials say still waters, including lakes and ponds, are better choices for the holiday weekend.

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