Local News

High Water At Kerr Lake Puts Damper On Family Camping

Posted June 18, 2003

— The recent rain is not just causing problems for homeowners. Vacationers also are feeling its effects.

The excessive water is washing out trips to local lakes. At

Kerr Lake

the water level is already high -- and getting higher.

A family reunion on the third week in June at Kerr Lake is a 48-year tradition for Dale Starnes. He usually picks a camp site close to shore. But the shore is swallowing all the best spots.

"Sometimes, it's up, and sometimes it's down," Starnes said. "But I've never seen it this high. Never. Not in all the years I've been coming."

The water is so high that boaters face the risk of hitting sunken obstacles or floating debris. The high water also flooded safe swimming areas.

Many campers have moved to higher ground and insist on staying. That means fewer spaces are available, and rangers spend more time on the phone.

"What we've been doing is calling and giving bad news about canceling reservations," said Park Superintendent Bryce Fleming, "and trying to make other arrangements for them."

Last year, the record-beaking drought spelled a down year for lake visitors and the businesses that depend on them. Now, record-breaking rainfall is doing the same thing:

Visitors come, take a look, and turn right back around.

The problem isn't going away anytime soon.

"It is going to take a long time for the lake to get back to a good usable level," Fleming said.

Dry weather is not in the forecast. Nevertheless, tradition is tradition. So the Starnes-Avent family reunion will go on as it always has for 48 years at Satterwhite Point.

"The main thing is the family is together," Starnes said. "The water is just an option."

According to the state Parks and Recreation Department, Kerr Lake seems to be the only concern in the Triangle area. Jordan and Falls Lakes aren't reporting any problems.

But too much rain later this week could change that at Jordan Lake, which is saturated right now. Just two months ago, several boat ramps there were underwater.

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