November 28, 2014

High waters float dock away

KEvin Drescher
Rifle River campground manager Laurie Richardson holds up a picture of the what the campgrounds dock used to look like. The dock was wiped out by flood waters. It used to stand right behind her. The river reached flood stage at 6 feet on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
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STERLING — Water levels on the Rifle River rose steadily over the weekend and early Monday morning, as the flood waters breached the river’s bank in some areas.

On Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said that the Rifle River had reached its flood stage level at 6 feet, and that it was expected to go to 6.2 feet.

Rifle River Campground Manager Laurie Richardson, said that the river was moving so fast that they lost their dock to the current.

“I’ve been here 45 years, and we’ve never lost a dock,” she said. The campground’s dock floated away late Sunday night.

“It rose a good six feet. I’ve never seen it rise so fast,”Richardson said.

The river, which is one of the area’s largest tourist destinations in the summer,rose enough that Richardson said that they had to move picnic tables out of the way late Sunday night after she and her friend went to go check on the campground around 11 p.m.

“About 1 (p.m.) is when it started to rise. At nine everything was still intact,” she said about the flood, which caused no injuries, and affected only the dock. “I was at home and something just told me that I need to come check on the dock.”

Living and working on her family-owned campground for most of her life Richardson said that she has never seen the river rise this much.

“It’s been high before, but it’s never been this high like this year. Usually, there is only a little piece that ends up in the water,” she said about the campground’s canoe conveyor belt that was a quarter of the way underwater more than usual. “It’s up about a good six feet.”

With the high waters, usually comes a faster and more steady current, and because the current was so fast, Richardson said that they are not letting anyone go out on the water.

“I am all about safety. We’re not letting them out. The current, you can’t stand in it right now,” she said Monday afternoon. “By the weekend it will probably be OK. Camping is still open; you just can’t go on the water.”

Though the flood may be hurting business a little bit, Richardson said that it isn’t hurting that much since the month of June is usually not that busy.

“June is always slow, because there are a lot of graduation parties,” said the manager. “It all depends on the water when it’s safe. It’s just too dangerous.”

For more information about river conditions and the campground, call 989-654-2556.

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