Richmond water rescue teams train on flooded James River

Richmond Fire and Rescue Training in Flood Water

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Saturday Richmond Fire and Rescue’s Water Rescue team from Station 13 conducted drills on the James River which crested over 14 feet, the highest point so far in 2020.

Lieutenant Shaun Whitely says it’s important for his team to train on the waters at different levels to be prepared for water rescues at all river conditions.

“We’re always on alert and we prepare for the unexpected,” Whitley said. “It’s not when it’s raining here that the river rises it’s usually several days later between that 48and 72 hours that blue skies and beautiful Saturdays when you wouldn’t think there is an issue with water and we’re collecting all the drainage from out west.”

Saturday the James River was at the minor flood stage and is expected to peak at 14.2 feet Memorial Day weekend, just inches away from the moderate flood stage at 15 feet.

Saturday was the highest point the James River has flooded so far in 2020. The previous highest crest peaked at 13.54 feet on February 9.

From 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Saturday Station 13 conducted training exercises to get a feel for James and to check on spots where people are likely to congregate so they can be prepared for where and when accidents are most likely to happen.

“Every opportunity we have to go out as we talked about the river is a completely different animal depending on the levels so the river at 6 feet to 14 feet you might as well be in two different places,” Whitely said.

Station 13 says this Memorial Day weekend unless you are an experienced swimmer and have a permit to be on the water people planning on congregating at James should do so from a safe distance.

“Enjoy the beauty of it from a distance If you’re in an area that looks unsafe that’s probably where you shouldn’t be and If you’re going to be on sure or any of the smaller islands pay attention to the river level ow and what it’s going to be in the future,” Whiteley said. "Stay out unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

Whitley says that anytime the river is above 5feet people planning on going in the water could have a personal flotation device.

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