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River crests near 14 feet as hundreds spend time along the James

Posted at 7:02 PM, May 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 19:06:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- All eyes were on the James Saturday afternoon as the river crested at more than 14 feet.

Jackson Griffith and his out-of-state family got an up close look.

"The river is like a foaming flow of chocolate milk with logs and sticks and some pretty massive drops in the white water that we got to see," Jackson said.

Jack Griffith, Jackson's father visiting from Georgia, was amazed by the power of the river.

"The trail goes right by the rapids," Jack pointed out. "It's great, awesome. Really something to see."

The river attracted all ages and backgrounds along with first responders for safety.

“The fire department was running boats up the river just now," Jack said.

Water expert Benjamin Moore, who also owns the Waterfront canoe and kayak rental service, said anyone who is not an expert needs to stay out of the water.

“It’s probably at these levels, maybe seven days out of the year. So this is high for the year, definitely," Moore said. “If you’re not an expert and have been doing this for years, today is not the day to come out and try out the James River in Richmond.”

Hundreds walked and biked along the James at Belle Isle and Pony Pasture. Parking lots remained closed by Richmond Parks and Rec to limit the crowds and hopefully curb the spread of COVID-19, but that did not stop folks from coming out.

“This is the first time since this whole craziness shutdown has started that family’s gotten together," Jackson said.

They said everyone was following social distance guidelines.

“On the bridge you definitely have people staying on the right side, and communicating when they’re coming up," Katherine Griffith added.

Overall the Griffiths said the day was the perfect start to the holiday weekend, but the family hopes everyone celebrates the true meaning of the holiday.

"We need to all be thankful for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and that’s what this weekend’s all about," Jack said.