Rising Ohio River waters altering Labor Day festivities

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(WEHT) – Generally, in the summer months, the Ohio River in the Tri-State area is about 14 feet high on average. But by Labor Day this year, the crest is expected to rise to over 26 feet, causing officials to make changes to events.

“We didn’t predict Hurricane Ida coming through and giving us lots of rain up river,” said Newburgh Events Coordinator Amber Kelly.

The town of Newburgh was planning for Saturday’s annual Fireworks and Evening at the Park event to take place on the riverfront in downtown Newburgh. But flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida has the Ohio river at a dangerous level.

“The Coast Guard contacted us and said it would just be too high and that it would be unsafe for boaters to be on the river. So the fireworks and evening in the park this weekend will be taking place at the mulzer baseball field on 662 in Newburgh. We will have food truck, we will have a beer garden, and we will have fireworks!” said Kelly.

Boaters should also expect to make slight changes in their holiday plans as docks will be removed in Henderson.

Donna Stinnett, who works for the City of Henderson, said, “we’re watching the Ohio river rise. When that happens to a certain height, we have to take out our boat docks on the riverfront. They’re not really designed to rise and fall with the river so if they get a little above – right at 22 feet, they’re in danger of breaking away from their moorings and floating away.”

Despite the removal, officials say tri-staters can still enjoy a day out on the water — with caution.

“Well they can still launch their boats and we do urge, because there is a fair amount of drift in the river that comes along when the river starts rising from excessive rainfall – just to be cautious and watch for that along the edge of the river,” added Stinnett.

She says they expect to replace the docks as the water levels subside, hopefully having them back by the following weekend. Officials say to be as careful as possible so you can enjoy the outdoor holiday festivities.

“I think we’re going to have a great crowd just because a lot of people are ready to get out and enjoy a big crowd again!” said Kelly. There will be no public parking at the Mulzer baseball fields. Organizers say parking is available a short walk down the Rivertown Trail and around downtown. There will not be a shuttle.

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