Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Concerns Of Dam Failure Prompt Evacuations In Lynchburg, Va.

Concerns Of Dam Failure Prompt Evacuations In Lynchburg, Va.

At 919 PM EDT, county dispatch reported the imminent failure of College Lake Dam on the Blackwater Creek.

The service says a failure of dam could flood parts of Lynchburg with 17 feet (5 metres) of water in just seven minutes. The dam "is being closely monitored ... for any signs of structural failure" as another inch or so of rain is expected Friday near Lynchburg, 50 miles east of Roanoke, according to the National Weather Service.

Local fire and police sent boats to rescue people to area shelters late Thursday as some creeks were already feeling the overflow from the dam.

The CNN Weather Center said there a forecast of 1-3 inches of rain through Friday evening and that rain hasn't been above average, but the runoff is a contributor to the area flooding.

It was feared that if the dam did fail and collapse, water would flood from the creek into the James River, which is close to the city's business district.

City crews inspect the dam weekly because of its age.

Firemen waded through flood waters on Thursday in Lynchburg. The city of Lynchburg owns the dam and is responsible for its upkeep.

Even though it's near College Lake, The University of Lynchburg did not evacuate as it isn't downstream of the dam.

The heavy rain in Virginia is part of a sprawling weather system bringing the threat of flooding all the way from the Carolinas to New England.

Lynchburg, in the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia, is home to about 80,000 people. The Virginia Department of Transportation built it in 1934.

Piper Van dePerre, with the Lynchburg Department of Emergency Services, told WDBJ that officials planned to evacuate more than 100 residents.

The lake's ecosystem is degrading rapidly, the school reports, as it fills with sediment, nutrients and raw sewage, resulting in the rapid development of watershed and stormwater management problems. The school said it is open Friday, though its entrance on Lakeside Drive was closed.

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