West Ossipee – July 6, 2009 — The West Ossipee Fire Department plucked a kayaker from the raging Bearcamp River on Friday using an airboat designed for river rescues, according to a report on WMUR-TV.
Fire Department officials said the kayaker tipped over after entering the river, and clung to his craft for 15 to 30 minutes before it was swept away. He was with a group of other kayakers who called for help.
The fire chief said the fact that the kayaker was wearing a life jacket helped save his life, according to the TV station report.
June’s unusually heavy rains have created challenging conditions on the popular Bearcamp and on the other tributaries entering the lake. Officials estimate the water flow is seven to eight times faster than normal.
At the time of Friday’s rescue, the lake was 1.5 ft. higher than summer level, according to the DES Dam Authority’s website. On Saturday the lake crested at 2.5 ft. above summer level and has started to recede, although some lake residents still have water surrounding their homes and many docks remain tied to the shoreline to prevent them from floating away.
While the Ossipee River dam is open to allow water to escape, it could take until the weekend before the lake returns to its summer level – provided that there is no additional heavy rainfall.