With the Memorial Day weekend rapidly approaching, Forsyth County authorities are preparing for an enormous influx of boaters and holiday revelers out on Lake Lanier.
According to Cpl. Eddie Tompkins, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, even with the rain forecast for this weekend, the lake, Chattahoochee River and parks around both will still be busy.
Tompkins said that people should expect to see a large law enforcement presence on the lake all weekend.
“With Memorial Day coming up, we just want to stress our safety and make sure everybody makes it off the lake safe and enjoys a great holiday weekend,” Tompkins said. “At any given time you may have between six to 10 patrol boats on the water, depending upon how pretty it is and how busy it is.”
This past weekend, the Swift Water Rescue Team of Forsyth County Fire Department was called to rescue two women who were stranded on the bank of Chattahoochee River following a release of water from Buford Dam at 5 p.m.
According to Division Chief Jason Shivers of the Forsyth County Fire Department, the incident left both women unharmed but could have potentially been fatal in different circumstances.
“All things considered, this was a positive outcome to the situation,” Shivers said.
He explained that the women realized they were at risk while floating down the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam, made their way to the riverbank to escape the rising water levels and became stranded there.
Shivers said that taking simple precautions when swimming, boating or fishing in the Chattahoochee River can reduce your risk.
“Whenever possible people should check power production schedules through the Buford Dam before entering the river,” Shivers said. “And they absolutely must heed the warning signal and get off the water prior to the release.”
He said that even knowing the power production schedule at Buford Dam, anyone in the river should still be wary and ready to get out of the water if need be.
Shivers said that ignoring the warning signal from Buford Dam could potentially be deadly, because the river will potentially rise dozens of feet in minutes.
“The water is extremely cold, even if you are an experienced swimmer, boater or fisherman, you can be caught off guard by the temperature of the water,” Shivers said. “And never ever go in the water alone.”
Shivers said that anyone that is exploring the Chattahoochee River below the dam is required by Georgia Law to wear a life vest at all times.
Anyone interested in checking Buford Dam’s power production schedule before heading out on the river can do so by calling (770) 945-1466 or by visiting www.nps.gov for more info.