1,500 Americans Floated To Canada – But They Weren’t Refugees

Open Jaw

No, the election hasn’t happened. The 1,500 Americans who unexpectedly ended up in Canada Sunday were blown here by Mother Nature, not by the ill winds emanating from U.S. politics.

A massive flotilla of Americans had to be rescued from the St. Clair River that separates Ontario and Michigan when strong rains and winds sent them illegally into Canadian waters.

The Americans were taking part in the annual Port Huron Float Down, a 30 yr. old annual party where all manner of inflatable rafts and inner tubes take to the river.

Strong winds blew the flimsy vessels off course and toward the Canadian shore. Some rafts deflated, spurring a rescue effort by the Canadian Coast Guard as well as federal and provincial police. Most "floaters" had to be rescued from the water, with many towed to shore, according to the Canadian Coast Guard.

"They were terrified of entering another country without documentation. No one carries their passport or any ID, and a lot were drinking alcohol," Peter Garapick, superintendent of search and rescue for the coast guard, told CBC television.

Some tried to swim back to the United States. "We had to pull a lot of people out of the water and say 'no,'" Garapick said.

The unexpected visitors were gathered at Sarnia and bused back to the U.S. by the city's public transit, with a police escort.

Authorities said the event has no official organizer and poses "significant and unusual hazards" due to the river's fast-moving current and participants' lack of life jackets.

A Facebook page for the event made a post Sunday night thanking Canadian authorities. "You've shown us true kindness and what it means to be amazing neighbours!" the post read.

(will not be published)