Shoals EMA leaders ask boaters to stay off river during flooding conditions

COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Emergency Management Agencies in the Shoals have a warning for boaters, stay off the Tennessee River. Although they can’t shut down river travel during flooding conditions, it is strongly discouraged for everyone’s safety.

Mike Melton

It’s one of the most scenic natural resources we have here in the valley. But for all its beauty, the Tennessee River is also one of the most dangerous. Especially right now.

“In these extreme situations, it’s multiplied 10-fold,” stated Colbert County EMA Director Mike Melton.

As millions of gallons of water are released at Wilson Dam each minute, currents downstream are increased.

According to Melton, the speed of the water is not the only hazard at the moment. There are a lot of things in the water which may not be visible.

“There is a lot of debris in the river, so there is a greater possibility of you running into problems even if you are a pro out on the river.”

As EMA Director, Melton has seen his share of water rescues over the years. He says when the river gets to flood stage there’s always the fishermen who think they can beat it. What they don’t think about are the people who may have to put their own lives at risk to save them.

“You are putting a lot of people that might come out looking for you at risk.”

So Melton’s advice is simple, stay off the river until it settles back down.

The Tennessee River in the Shoals is expected to reach flood stage on Wednesday or Thursday right now. It could take a couple of days after that for water levels to recede back down to normal winter pool.