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Keep an eye on river levels before enjoying the waters, officials say

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – Officials said to expect a lot of traffic on our local waterways this weekend and with all the rain we've seen lately, expect more dangerous conditions.

Charlie Pickle is helping to run his family business the Wilderness Canoe Company. They were expecting a busy Memorial Day weekend renting out hundreds of boats, kayaks and canoes.

But the water levels had other plans. 

"Anytime it goes above 6 feet on the Buchanan on the river gauge, you should stay out of the river," said Pickle. 

Pickle is tracking the water, which is just over 8 feet. He said it's way too high for anyone to be safe.

"And a lot of people will come with their own boats. And that's where we get into issues because they may not be fully aware of all of this. And they look at the river and (it) seems pretty good. Then they come to find out the river is too high and they capsize causing, the rescue squad to come get them," said Pickle. 

Capt. Kevin Moore, with Rockbridge County Fire and Rescue, said if you are going to be out enjoying the water, wear a life jacket and make sure someone knows your location. 

"Even if it's an area that you frequent, it's going to be different this weekend then it normally would be. Some places, they were really shallow and could have a lot of current," Moore said. 

His team will be keeping a close eye on the water levels in different parts of the county.

"I don't think we had any fatalities last year, but there was several times a team had to be called out to save people who were stranded or getting in waters over their abilities," Moore said. 

As for Pickle, he is hoping to see the crowd come back next weekend. 

It will take at least a week for the river levels to go down without any extra rain.