Virginia Dept. of Wildlife Resources warns of deadly boating conditions

The James River
The James River(NBC12)
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 3:20 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is warning recreational boaters of deadly flood boating conditions this week and weekend as several flood warnings have been issued.

The DWR says boaters should use extreme caution if they decide to launch as the conditions can be hazardous due to significantly higher than normal water levels and trash and other debris that could be floating on the surface or just below the waterline.

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“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,” said Major Scott Naff with DWR’s Conservation Police.

The DWR has responded to and worked several boating incidents that have resulted in fatalities and injuries to boaters who tried to go out on waters impacted by heavy rain.

If you are a canoer, kayaker or another recreational boater who decides to go out, the DWR makes the following recommendations:

  • We strongly urge you to think before you go. Always check local river conditions. A resource for this is the American Whitewater website.
  • Check your local 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 at the Wakefield office or Blacksburg office.
  • Be aware that it is possible that high water will force the temporary closing of some boat ramps.
  • Have a good plan and share your plan with someone who knows where you will be and when to expect you to return.
  • Finally, make sure you have the proper equipment onboard and that you wear a properly sized and fitted life jacket. Remember that life jackets do save lives!

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