Swollen Savannah River Attracting Tourists

Swollen Savannah River Attracting Tourists (Image 1)

After weeks and weeks of rain…  and that dramatic water release from Thurmond Dam on Thursday, Augusta is no longer getting attention as the hottest spot in the south….  but now the soggiest.

Friday evening, there were hundreds of people walking up and down the Riverwalk to get a look at the Savannah River. A lot of the people were from out of town.

The Savannah River is still flowing about seven times faster than it normally does. Roads and parks near the water are closed until further notice. That includes the lower portion of the Riverwalk. But even though officials are warning people about potential flooding, hundreds of people are showing up in Augusta to check out the river.

“The Savannah looks more like the Mississippi right now with the water overflowing the banks,” says Chuck Johnson.

Heath Pilgrim and Emmaly Dawson have been going to the Riverwalk for years, but this occasion was different.

“No, sir I have never seen it this high. This is the first time that's why we are taking a look at it. It's something to come see, but it's not something to be happy about, says Pilgrim.

Pilgrim and Dawson say they have never seen so many people walking along the riverfront.

“I believe there are a lot of people out here. A lot of people are looking and taking pictures and stuff,” says Dawson.

“It brings a lot more people out. You know, out of the house. The ones who have been at home because of the rain. Now that it's pretty outside, it gives them time to come out and walk,” says Pilgrim.

People came from all over the Southeast to see the Savannah River. We spoke with folks from Atlanta and even a family from Woodstock, GA. Frankie Merkle lives in Springfield SC. He says he hasn't been to the Riverwalk in 15 years, but he had to see the rising river.

“It's something you never believe will happen at home or close to home. And it never really clicks. I mean, seeing it on the news is one thing, but actually coming down here and seeing it, that's a whole other story,” says Merkle.

Some say the sight is a once in a hundred year event, but for others, the flooding is nothing new.

“All I can say is when mother nature decides she wants to do it again, it's gonna happen again,” says Merkle.

Officials have closed the bottom part of the Riverwalk until further notice. All boat ramps and boat access points remained closed in Augusta as well.

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