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Rising river levels lead to boat recoveries

In the pouring rain, rescue crews were on the water to investigate reports of unmanned boats.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — "The river is rising; do you know where your boats are?" 

That's the question first responders and dive teams along the Susquehanna River are asking.

In the pouring rain, rescue crews are answering the call to get out on the water in Exeter Township to investigate reports of unmanned boats.

"Find out if anybody was in the boats," explained Lake Winola Fire Chief Eugene Dziak, who drove the department's Airboat 12 on the water. "We believe that the boats were beached along the side of the river with the river being so low, and now that the river is coming up, these boats are cutting loose and floating away."

Empty or not, these first responders have to get all the resources together and treat each call like it's the worst-case scenario.

"We have to ensure that nobody is left in that river," added Dziak.

First responders tell Newswatch 16 they will use the registration number on the boat to contact the owner and make sure everyone is accounted for. For boats that don't have a number, they're just going to retrieve the vessel. Without an indication of a missing person, it's unsafe for crews to search the river continuously.

"Conditions are rough. You know, as the river rises, the river flows a lot faster, so it's kind of dangerous to be out there and try to do what we need to do," explained Dziak.

To avoid putting anyone in harm's way, these crews ask everyone to get their boats up away from the shoreline or out of the water.

"The river's been down for an extending period of time, but now with this rain, this rain is raising the river rather quickly," said Dziak. "Get your boats up and get them secured."

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