Parts of Virginia city evacuated over possible dam failure

04 August, 2018, 22:17 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Lynchburg floods: Flooding dam sparks evacuations in US city

Almost a hundred people have been evacuated from their homes in Lynchburg, Va., after an intense storm amid concerns that an aging dam might fail and unleash unsafe floodwaters.

Hunt said it was hard to say how much of the city would be affected by the dam water, because the city has a creek system that meanders through different parts of the municipality.

College Lake is a manmade lake, built in the early 1930s by the Virginia Department of Highways as part of the development of U.S. Highway 460, west of Lynchburg.

Water is now overflowing from the lake.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation listed College Lake Dam as being "high hazard" in 2011, estimating at the time that it would cost $4.5 million to fix.

"The worst case scenario if that dam does breach, officials are anxious it might, is that water would go surging downhill into Lynchburg and it could drown that city in 17 feet of water in about 7 minutes".

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Because the sediment from the city's runoff is trapped above the dam, the lake has dramatically reduced in size.

The dam was deemed intact Friday morning, CNN reported, although water has continued to cascade over the dam and into Blackwater Creek, which is two miles from downtown Lynchburg. The original surface area of the lake was reported to be 44 acres and has been reduced to 19 acres due to sedimentation. The road, now US 221, needed expansion and improvement.

A flash-flood watch is in effect through 6 pm Friday in Lynchburg, with 1 to 3 more inches of rain expected. They will remain there "until our weather event has passed and our dam is stabilized", she says.

Images and video posted on the city's Facebook page showed emergency workers rescuing families stranded in an apartment complex by boat.

Officials evacuated people from more than 100 homes in the city of 80,000.

Turner Perrow, a member of the Lynchburg City Council who is also a civil engineer, tells NPR that the dam presents "a complicated problem".

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