Officials: River flooding making for dangerous swimming conditions

Memorial day safety tips

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Just as the summer season is beginning, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso says local rivers have the potential to be very dangerous to swimmers.

Ongoing strong southerly winds impacting Southwest Louisiana have caused rivers like the Calcasieu and Sabine to be under flood warnings.

"It really only takes a matter of a few seconds and disaster happens,” Mancuso said. “Unfortunately, we see it all too often."

Andrew Tingler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says right now the currents caused by the winds are strong enough to call for caution if residents want to go swimming.

“All the rivers are pretty much at flood stage, or at least close to it, across the region,” Tingler said. “Currents are flowing pretty well, pretty fast across the rivers. It’s just not worth it to get swept up by the river or get hung up on a stump or something like that.”

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury says the Calcasieu River and English Bayou have been closed to recreational boaters for roughly 10 days due to the high water levels. (click here for details.)

But they say swimming was not listed in the closure. That's why Mancuso urges swimmers to wait until it officially reopens.

“I know that we’re just getting out of school and everybody wants to hit the water, but just give it a few days, I’m sure were going to re-open it pretty soon,” Mancuso said. “We’re not trying to spoil anyone’s fun. We’re doing it because it’s not safe right now.”

The Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness says they will likely decide Thursday, May 23, whether to open Calcasieu River back up to recreational users.

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