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James River water levels in Galena, Mo. creating problems for floaters

Published: Jun. 14, 2021 at 3:18 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT
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GALENA, Mo. (KY3) - Highlandville Fire Rescue responded to the James River near Galena several times over the weekend after rafts and canoes were swept away by the rushing river. Rescuers reported no injuries.

Highway Patrol Sergeant Mike McClure said there are a few things to keep in mind before putting your boat in the water.

“First and foremost we strongly encourage and strongly suggest that you wear a flotation device, a life jacket while you’re on your kayak, canoe, raft whatever water boarding device you’re paddling,” Sergeant Mike McClure said.

Sergeant McClure said you also need to monitor the upcoming changes in the river.

”The floods and the rain that we’ve had may have put a large tree in that area where the root ball is facing upstream and the trees facing downstream that’s going to change the current entirely and that’s where a lot of people get in trouble,” Sgt. McClure said.

He said over the weekend, there were a few people who had trouble on the river because of the change in water levels.

”They self-rescued, there were two others that were helped by a passing kayaker so that goes to show too that you may be in a place that you can help somebody out that is struggling just a little bit because they’ve lost their boat,” McClure said.

Floater Jake Strawn said when he’s on the water he likes to follow a simple rule called KISS.

”Keep it simple stupid, if it seems scary you should probably take caution, keep the buddy system going on always have a partner you’re watching out for and vice versa they are looking out for you,” Jake Strawn said.

Strawn said it’s not uncommon for your raft or canoe to flip, but if it does don’t panic.

”The more you panic the worse it is I mean I’ve panicked before and you always end up getting hurt or something, stay calm if you’re out there if it happens just flip it over and calmly drain the water and put yourself back in,” Strawn said.

Sgt. McClure said it’s also important to check river levels ahead of time to ensure a safe float.

To check area river levels CLICK HERE.

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