Rain, high rivers hurt local business and recreation - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

High rivers hurt Harnett/Cumberland business and recreation

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All the rain in North Carolina lately is making local rivers too dangerous for boaters, and that is hurting businesses that rely on that activity.

"The flow of the river and the river height is just dangerous to be on," explained Ilia Smirnov on Thursday.

He said that is killing his Lillington-based canoe and kayak business called Cape Fear Adventures. This time of year he expects to be busy with river tours and walk-up renters every weekend.

"We've certainly had to cancel numerous reservations, and for those folks just expecting to get on the river for an hour or two without reservations, they come here and learn we're not even open."

Right beside the door of Cape Fear Adventures is a white board with a message from last weekend. It reads, "We are closed due to very high river level."

Fortunately for Smirnov and his wife Megan he has a different fulltime job.

"If I was depending on this income as a sole income, yes, we would be in big, big trouble right now," he said.

Tim Mitchell, Deputy Emergency Services Director for Cumberland County, explained the main problem with a river that is higher than normal. They collected more debris when water rises onto the banks.

"We don't want anyone to get out on the river and hit some of that debris and their boat start sinking or cause someone to get thrown out the boat," Mitchell said.

It is a bad situation for business and for people who just love getting out to enjoy the water. The Cape Fear will not be safe again until Jordan Lake is back to its normal level and water is no longer rushing over the dam there.

"We're just waiting for all the water to be released from Jordan Lake to meet their certain level where they're trying to keep the water, and then after that we'll see the river being lowered, and then from there on we'll be able to resume our operations," Smirnov said.

Cape Fear Adventures is not the only place feeling the sting of slow business because of the rain. At Riverside Bait and Tackle in Fayetteville, the owner said his boat ramp business is down 25 percent during the week and 50 percent on weekends. He said no one wants to put a boat in the river right now.

Mitchell said it is wise to avoid rivers and creeks right now until they are back to normal. He said people should find lakes or ponds if they want to enjoy the water right now.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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