Danger on the Savannah still lingers despite lower water levels

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News 12 at 11 O'clock / Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Augusta, Ga. (WRDW) -- What felt like minutes even hours to Michaela Walden...was only seconds...

"Literally thinking, ok this is it Michaela, this is it," said Michaela Walden, whose gone kayaking down the Savannah River many times.

Under today's stormy sky, she remembers just what it was like to face the unknown.

"Pulled me under the water," she said.

After her canoe flipped, she knew she was in trouble. the current began to move too fast for her to handle.

"Calm down, take a deep breath, relax, go with the flow of the water, let the water guide you," she said.

And that mentality she says, saved her life. All of this happening when the Savannah river was at it's lowest this past weekend.

"The people that want to do the river, we won't let them because it's too low," said Steve Wright with Savannah Rapids Kayak Rentals.

Low is about 6,000 cubic feet of water per second. Wright says 8,000 cubic feet of water per second is normal for the Savannah. But last summer, that number shot up to more than 45,000, so he wasn't willing to send any of his kayaks on the river.

"We just refused to rent for about two weeks last year out of fear that someone would get hurt," he said.

News 12's Patrick Price took a trip down the Savannah, Rapids and all.

"Nice, fast, swift water," said Wright.

The journey from start to finish was around five miles.

"Last year, you could go from here to downtown Augusta in about an hour and a half," he said.

Today, it took more than three hours, A few things standing including rocks standing in the way of a smooth trip.

"So little water out there, that you can't get through the rocks," said Wright.

Michaela agrees and says, "This far underneath the water's edge, that you can't see, that you don't know what to expect."

But expecting the unexpected could mean a difference between getting down the river and getting caught it's grasp.

"There's no patrolling that, all you can do is just sit, wait and wonder," she said.