Floaters brave Edisto River flood waters for Fourth of July fun

Floaters brave Edisto River flood waters for Fourth of July fun

GIVHANS, SC (WCSC) - The Edisto River is overflowing with more than floaters on this 4th of July. This year, Givhans State Park rangers say the water is over flood stage and it's still climbing. But that isn't stopping families and friends from floating the river at the peak of summer.

"They're calling it squirrel hunting because they're picking out people off the side that are getting stuck," said Joanna Lombardi, who spoke to Deputies rescuing floaters caught on the sides of the river.

"We came out last year, it was a lot of fun for the kids, and the river was very low," said Lombardi. "I didn't think it would be this high. I thought it would be safe to bring neighbor kids out."

But she says her five river riders didn't get far on the first float of the day.

"I think we floated for five minutes and spent 20 minutes trying to get back out," said Lombardi.

Park Rangers say the heavy rains from June have caused the river to swell to unusually high levels for the summer months.

"Flood stage is 10 feet and right now the river is 10.34 feet and it is climbing," said Assistant Park Ranger Kim Smith.

Park Manager Rick Robertson says his staff is a little concerned about the water level, but they're asking people to use extreme caution when they come out.

"The river flows much faster right now when it's high," said Smith.

Floaters like Steve Sakellar are taking full advantage of that.

"It's quick and very high," said Sakellar.

He says normal Edisto summer water level floaters take about 4 and a half hours to complete the three mile trip... today... the current is moving about 3 miles an hour.

"Sometimes you want to find your inner pirate and get on the river and have an adventure," said Sakellar.

Lombardi says Deputies told her at least 35 people have been rescued from the trees on the sides of the river Thursday.

She says officers have been pulling people out with rescue boats since the first raft went down the river at nine in the morning.

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