1500 Americans float to Canada after heavy winds blew their inflatable rafts. It was supposed to be a fun-filled weekend for more than 1500 people from Michigan, who decided to take part in the annual Port Huron Float Down in the St. Clair River. However, torrential rains and winds turned the whole thing into chaos.
According to Canadian authorities, thousands of Americans (many of whom were drunk) found themselves struggling to stop their inflatable rafts and inner tubes from landing on Canadian shores, in vain.
Some attempted to swim back to America when they realized that they had landed in a foreign country without documentation or ID. Police and first responders from Sarnia, Ontario rapidly arrived at the scene and helped the stranded, tired, freezing, and shirtless Americans.
Gabrielle, 16, who was among those who landed in Canada, explained what occurred. The teen said:
“When we reached the shore, we were met with some friendly Sarnia police that gave off the vibe that they were going to try their best to get us back to the U.S. But instead of waiting around we decided to use some muscle and get ourselves back. I jumped in the water with a life jacket and swam holding the rafts while my friend, Zach Howe, was in a kayak paddling.”
Canadian police requested 19 Sarnia Transit buses to drive the Americans back to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Sarnia Police Service Staff Sgt. Scott Clarke said:
“It was a bit of a nightmare, but we got through it.There were long waits and long lines, (the floaters) were cold and wet, but they all made it home.”
Lee Patterson, Sarnia Transit deputy director, added:
“From the transit side of it, it went very well. Most people were pretty well behaved and we did our best to get them back over and keep them warm and comfortable.”
No one was injured, and all of the floaters were accounted for and safely returned home. However, now, there is another problem, who will handle the very expensive bill for the rescue efforts? Port Huron Fire Operations Chief Dan Mainguy shared:
“The St. Clair County Sheriff Department won’t have a total cost of the resources it took to support the event until the end of the week. The department will need to figure out how many marine division and dive team members were on hand, the pay rate of each, along with the amount of gas used for their motor vessels. On top of that, each team, including the U.S. and Canadian coast guards, and participating police and fire agencies, will each have their own additional cost as well.”
The Port Huron Float Down has been around for more than 30 years, but there were no official organizers for the event. A Facebook page named Port Huron Float Down issued the following statement after the mini-international disaster:
“We want to express our gratitude to the Canadian Authorities for their assistance and understanding with the floaters who’ve unintentionally been forced to the Canadian shoreline. You’ve shown us true kindness and what it means to be amazing neighbors! This is exactly why we stress the importance of paddles and oars, and not entering the water if you are incapable of maneuvering on your own. We hope everyone returns home safe.”
The Canadian Coast Guard was not happy after the incident and made its anger known in a statement, which read:
“The Port Huron Float Down event has no official organizer and poses significant and unusual hazards given the fast-moving current, large number of participants, lack of life jackets, and as was the case this year, very challenging weather conditions.”
Some are jokingly wondering if Canada should build a wall to stop partiers from crossing the border.