UPDATE: Flooding Closed Ocoee to Rafters, River Back Open Saturday
UPDATE: Jamie Silver, the General Manager of Adventures Unlimited tells Channel they did really well on Saturday.
Silver said the water levels were fine and they had just under 500 people come out.
Most people who planned to go to Adventures Unlimited on Thursday and Friday did reschedule for another time.
After two days of no rafters being permitted to go down the Ocoee, you could imagine their excitement to finally get the go ahead just in time for the holiday. "We just wait for word to come that we're not going," said Jamie Silver, General Manager for Adventures Unlimited.
It's been a slow few days for outfitter groups like Adventures Unlimited, with lots of rain coming down and the water in the river coming up. "While we were sad about that, we're not sad about having to stay home and not taking someone out in dangerous conditions and hopefully today the levels are supposed to be normal," said Silver.
Adventurer's alone estimates to send down nearly 600 people. "We just tried to get everybody that had their trips canceled and get them in today," said Silver.
Katrina Maggi came into town from Nashville. "I was getting bummed that our trip might not work out and not be able to do it," said Maggi.
But her whole group was pretty stoked to find out they could. "I’m so excited!!!" said Austin Culp.
While for some, rafting down the river is a fourth of July tradition; for rafters like Zack Beaty, the trip down the river has a deeper meaning. "I'd say freedom, and it's such a free, exhilarating feeling to go down the river. We want to thank our troops, helping us out with everything," said Beaty.
UPDATE: TVA officials say the Ocoee River will be reopened for commercial rafting on Saturday.
UPDATE: All this wet weather means some businesses are really taking a hit on an otherwise busy holiday weekend.
Rafting companies along the Ocoee river were forced to cancel trips for a second day due to high water levels.
TVA closed the river due to unsafe rafting conditions.
That's lead to a change of plans for those who wanted to be in the white water.
And business owners wonder how badly their bottom lines will be effected.
"Hope the good Lord makes that water flow tomorrow," said William Dodson.
William Dodson is one of many who had to make other plans on Friday.
The Ocoee, a white water rafting mecca, was closed because, thanks to recent rains, the water level was just too high.
"That's why we made a reservation well in advance and we knew then we couldn't predict the weather," said Dodson.
Dodson drove in from south of Nashville..
"I don't know, I got to make a decision here in probably an hour whether not I was going to turn around and drive home or if I'm going to stay in camp tonight," said Dodson.
Once TVA shut the Ocoee down, the 24 rafting companies got on the phones to rafters.
"This is a big weekend for the Ocoee. Fourth of July is probably one of the biggest weekends we have," said Dodson.
Lamar Davis has run Outland Expeditions for the last 35 years.
"We had to turn a few people away. We were fortunate, we got such an early call that we are able to call most of our guests and let them know we were not going to be able to carry them downriver. Most were understanding," said Lamar Davis, Outland Expeditions.
He's only seen this happen two, maybe three times.
"The Ocoee is one of the most dependable rivers there is because it's dam controlled. The TVA does a lot to help us as far as controlling that water," said Davis.
And they're working to bring down the water volume , right now with 6,000 - 8,000 people expected over the holiday weekend, another day off means the businesses take a big hit.
"Well, it affects us, monetarily. When you have so few days a year to make an income and then the rain happens, but that's totally out-of-control, out of our control," said Davis.
Meg Lemons from Ocoee Zips says she has yet to turn anyone away for Saturday.
"But, you know, we have people coming from all over so it's kind of hard to say make your decision based on knowing whether to come or not," said Meg Lemons, Ocoee Zips.
So what to do? What any of us would.
"Well, we hope the rivers going to open tomorrow. We hear the water is receding right now. So, hopefully, but no guarantees," said Lemons.
"We praying, we got our fingers crossed," said Lemons.
The Ocoee Adventure Center says they're waiting to hear from the TVA on Saturday morning to see if the river will be open to rafters.
PREVIOUS STORY: Rafting companies along the Ocoee River have been forced to cancel rafting trips for a second day due to high water levels.
TVA closed the river to commercial rafters Thursday and again today due to unsafe rafting conditions.
Channel 3 spoke with an employee at the Ocoee Adventure Center who tells Channel 3 the closure couldn’t come a worse time with the holiday weekend ahead. They expect to hear from TVA in the morning if the river will be open to commercial rafting on Saturday. Their staff spent the majority of Friday calling rafters to warn them of the closure, but say they are still open for their zip line operation.
According to TVA’s website, the river is flowing at 3,899 cubic feet per second (cfs). Earlier in the day the river was flowing at 9,321 cfs. The average summertime release on the Lower Ocoee is 1250 cfs.
TVA’s website goes on to say Ocoee 2 will continue spilling intermittently until further notice.
Stay with Channel 3 for more on this developing story.