City warns people to stay away from river

By: Chris Baylor Email
By: Chris Baylor Email

Despite warnings of flash flooding, people continued to hit the Chippewa River to cool down this weekend but the City of Eau Claire is warning people that might not be the best idea because of high waters and quick currents.

Even though the weather was perfect to float down the Chippewa River. The City of Eau Claire says the river is only about five feet below the downtown flood stage.

"We're going on the river because it's out friend's birthday and it's a tradition so we're not going to let any high waters scare us away,” says tuber Crystal Richardson.

"We've ridden a lot worse water, we'll read it and ride it all the way down," says kayaker Art Syth.

People were jumping in the Chippewa River and whether it was a tube or kayak the city is asking people to be safe. The city even blocked off parts of the bike path along the river that were under water. The fire department says it's on a heighten alert because of the high-water and the fast currents that come with it.

"With the high water they might not be used to it, it's now moving right along so we're always prepared,” says Battalion Chief Duane Grunst.

While some people were out braving the high waters they did notice less people out there with them.

"We saw 15 to 20 people, not too bad," says tuber Sean O'Brien.

"There was people warning us not to go at first, one of our friends didn't go because he was nervous, I don’t think they should be too worried,” says tuber Jordann Dorskey.

In a statement the city’s emergency management teams said the Chippewa Valley has received more than 13 inches of rainfall since May first, with more than six inches falling in the last four days.

With the rain Xcel Energy is also warning people to be careful around dams and spillways. The fire department says it hasn't had to respond to anyone in trouble in the water but the city says it expects the river to hold at these high levels for the next few days.

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