Rising Merced River flows causes part of a nearby park to close

Signage and caution tape is wrapped around the entrance as parts of Hagaman Park are closed again due to flooding from rising Merced River flows.

"With the heavy rain and the snow melt, this is our second closure this year and it's possible there could be more, depending on how that river water is moving," said Merced County spokesperson Mike North.

Flooding is common this type of year, especially with the recent rains and snow pack.

However, what's underneath the standing water can be a hazard to visitors, so that's why North says they were forced to close portions of the park.

"People don't realize that if you get in the water, there's underwater obstacles like fire pits and benches. That's dangerous if somebody falls into one of those, or gets a foot caught," North said.

While crews are working to reopen closed entrances and playground, folks are still being asked to stay away from the Merced River and other canal systems.

Sheriff Vern Warnke says while the water may look inviting, the rapids underneath the surface could be deadly.

"When they get into the water, they not only put themselves in danger, but they put personnel and emergency rescuers in danger. Because they don't think ahead."

Sheriff's deputies already had one incident earlier this year involving a stranded kayaker on the river. Meanwhile, in 2017, a father drowned trying to save his daughter.

Warnke says their search and rescue teams train on a daily basis and have a crew periodically flying and monitoring the river.

However, folks who get in the river and need to be rescued could see a bill.

"We are recouping costs. So if you get in there, we can financially have you repay for the equipment and personnel if you've been noticed."

North says they're hoping to reopen a portion of the park this weekend, and the rest of it early next week. However, folks are still asked to stay out of the water.
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