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Loose canoe brings out emergency personnel

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- Emergency personnel responded to a 1:50 p.m. 911 dispatch to the Flint River poised for a rescue if necessary.

The dispatch concerned a canoe snagged by a tree trunk in the middle of the swiftly flowing, swollen river. Spotting the canoe in the river, passersby called the emergency distpatch number, officials said.

There were no occupants in the canoe, said Albany Fire Department Battalion Chief J.K. Ambrose.

Emergency personnel respond to calls as if they were needed to rescue people. It is best to be prepared, Ambrose added.

"It looks like the canoe came loose from somewhere upstream," he said. "We launched a rescue boat downstream near the Marine base. They'll search as they come upstream. They'll also look for people upstream from the canoe."

Once the boat was reached, emergency personnel found no identifying marks on the hull, said M.W. Jefferson, fire department battalion chief.

The incident was over by about 2:30 p.m.

Canoes and other boats coming loose from their moorings is not a commonplace problem, Jefferson said. But it happens now and then.

"The river is running swift, so we left (the canoe) with the tree," Jefferson said. "It will be safer to go and get it once the river comes

down."

The Flint River has been running high due to heavy rains in the river basin last week, said Al Mattson, a hydro-meteorological technician with the National Weather service in Tallahassee, Fla.

"It hit 24.3 feet on the 19th," Mattson said. "Right now (4:30 p.m., Wednesday) it is at 19.7 feet. We expect it to go down to 11.8 feet by Saturday night."

The flood stage for the Flint River is 20 feet. When the river, which is typically at a level of about 12 feet, hits 16 feet, it is called an action stage, Mattson said.

"If it gets to 16 feet, if you have a camper near the river you better pay attention to the forecasts," he said. "That is when we begin to monitor the river level closely."

Ready to give a hand at the river Wednesday in case they were needed for a rescue were members of the Albany Police Department and Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services.