They’re kayaking down Main Streets in Texas.
After a week of historic heavy rains and subsequent flooding throughout the Lone Star state, it’s likely you’ve seen the photos of residents employing their kayaks to get across town.
While visually stunning, floating on unpredictable floodwaters isn’t exactly safe, and on Tuesday one of the region’s leading outdoor and paddlesport retailers announced on Facebook it was temporarily suspending its kayak rental business for safety reasons.
“It’s just a temporary thing,” said a store representative at Austin Canoe & Kayak’s Houston store. “The main reason for not renting kayaks is because it is a liability more than anything. With the high water levels, it’s just not safe.”
While the store isn’t renting kayaks, it is still selling them. The theory being, many people might consider renting a kayak for a quick joyride on floodwaters, but if they’re buying, it’s more likely an investment. Renters are also likely to be less experienced. “The main purpose of the renting is a sort of ‘try before you buy’,” the store representative said. “But right now, conditions are not safe to be renting them out. When the conditions are safer, we will start renting them out again.”
Despite the high water levels, business at the store continues as usual. The store representative said kayak sales have been steady, but not out the norm because of the flooding.
“This is traditionally our peak season, and with the holiday weekend, things have been busy. But I don’t think the flooding has had an impact on that.”
Austin Canoe and Kayak has five stores in the Austin, Houston and San Antonio area, some the hardest hit by the flooding. For example, according to The Weather Channel, the Austin region has received more than 15 inches of rain the past month and experts are predicting more rain on the way. Historically, the region receives about 4.36 inches of rain on average each May.
Six people have been killed by the flooding conditions.