Boaters asked to use caution after flooding at Smith Mountain Lake

Local News

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office asks people operating watercraft to take note of the No Wake Zones posted around Smith Mountain Lake after Thursday’s flooding.

“Always important to slowly navigate through No Wake Zones, but after all the rain we have experienced, causing wakes can be more dangerous and hazardous to property owners. Many docks are either under or almost under water this morning . . . Please be courteous and proceed very slowly inside No Wake Zones.”

Sgt. Megan Patterson, Franklin County

Smith Mountain Lake is seeing water levels some say they’ve never seen before. The water is over full pond by almost 3 feet leaving many docks underwater.

Safety is an even bigger concern as we head into Memorial Day weekend usually one of the lake’s busiest times of the year.

People are asked to stay off the lake until the water goes down. But with this being a holiday weekend, if people do go on the water they are asked to go slow at “no wake” speed.

“Unfortunately this memorial day is not going to be like the rest. Just like the past two months have not been typical,” said Chief Todd Ohlerich with Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire and Rescue.

Chief Ohlerich says boaters need to wait for the water to go down about 6-12 inches before it’s safe to boat.

“This is why I moved here for the lake. So I hate telling people to stay off of it. But for safety, it’s just the right thing to do this weekend. There will be enough time over the summer to play,” Chief Ohlerich said.

But he says he understands many people aren’t going to want to put off boating this holiday weekend.

“With the flooding I’m hoping not, but Memorial Day is typically pretty busy,” said Chief Ohlerich.

“After being under quarantine for so long they feel that being outdoors is where they need to get some peace and get some fun,” said Chief Ohlerich.

Ohlerich says he hopes people stay safe… and use common sense – if they do go onto the water. That means going at “no wake” speed.

“Because unfortunately, the faster you go, the bigger your wake is and the more damage you’re going to cause to property and other boats around the lake,” said Chief Ohlerich.

Chad Green says he plans on being in the water this weekend, but he’ll be extra careful, go slowly and watch out for debris.

“When the water comes up, stuff that may not have moved in the past is now floating in the water. So that’s causing issues.”

“Unfortunately you can’t see all the debris that’s out there. Some of it is just lurking below the surface,” said Chief Ohlerich.

Other tips the chief had for people who will be on the water include Always wearing a life jacket, keep a safe distance away from other boats, monitoring your surroundings and knowing where you are on the lake, in case of an emergency.

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