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'The Water Is Rushing Too Fast:' Four Groups Of Kayakers Rescued In Stearns County

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) -- The water is running too high, and too fast, on many lakes and rivers in central Minnesota. It's creating dangerous conditions for boaters and kayakers.

"We were excited because we were like, 'Oh, the river's flowing fast, it should be quick,'" said St. Cloud resident Christopher McDonald.

What started as an exciting kayaking trip for Christopher and Stacey McDonald, ended with the couple stranded in the raging, cold Sauk Rive for nearly an hour Sunday afternoon before they were rescued by emergency crews. Christopher capsized first after hitting a tree, and Stacey went in next.

"She didn't see me come up so she was gonna call 911, and when she reached for her phone the current caught her and she went," Christopher said.

Though bruised up and without their sunglasses, hats and a paddle, they still have their lives and a lesson they want to share with others.

"Wear your life jacket, keep calm, eyes forward, secure things to your boat," he said.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office said they received more than 5 inches of rain during recent storms, causing water levels to rise quickly and submerge trees and other hazards.

"If you're not probably, honestly, at like an expert level for canoeing and kayaking, we're having some people running into problems," said Sheriff Steve Soyka. "They're getting tipped over, the water is rushing too fast for them."

Four groups of kayakers were rescued this past weekend in Stearns County on the Sauk and Mississippi rivers. Officials say high waters are also causing damage to the shoreline, leading to no-wake restrictions.

"Just asking people to either stay off the water, or if you go out use caution, and go out with a buddy and be safe," Sheriff Soyka said.

The McDonalds aren't giving up their pandemic hobby, but next time, they plan to kayak in a lake instead until conditions improve.

"We're still looking forward to going again. It's not shying away from it, but just learning from, maybe don't go this high," he said.

Kandiyohi County has also issued no-wake restrictions due to high water levels.

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