— On an average summer day, floating down the Edisto River is a leisurely escape. But now, because of recent heavy rainfall, floaters are being urged to use caution when braving the swifter, deeper water.

Givhans Ferry State Park manager Rick Robertson said that as of 10 a.m. Friday, water levels were at 12.3 feet. Flood stage is 10 feet. The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office has asked that people avoid the river this weekend because of the flooding.

“I’ve seen the river high in the winter months, but I’ve never seen it this high this time of year,” Robertson said.

And while he said the park cannot stop people from going into the river, they have signs posted urging anyone taking the risk to use caution. The river is now moving faster and because the banks are under water it is difficult to get out.

“A lot of people overshot the landing and they had to work their way back,” Robertson said.

Dorchester sheriff’s Chief Deputy Sam Richardson said they rescued five people from the river Thursday. On Friday the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office responded to boaters whose boat had taken on water.

Richardson said that while the Edisto can be dangerous, banning access to the river during flooding would prove difficult because it flows though private land and several jurisdictions, including Dorchester County and Colleton County.

“We can’t say we have the ability to shut it down,” Richardson said.

Right now authorities are focusing on getting the word out that the river can be dangerous and they are there to rescue those in need.

“We want everybody to have a safe and happy holiday season, but our job is to make sure everyone is safe,” Richardson said.

Robertson urges floaters to not go in the water alone and to stay in groups. They should also watch out for wildlife, like snakes, because of flooding in nearby swamps and creeks.

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or jmcduffie@postandcourier.com.