Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Lynchburg flood: College Lake Dam failure - emergency evacuations

Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure Lynchburg floods: Flooding dam sparks evacuations in US city
Gerardo Duncan | 04 August, 2018, 22:21

In Lynchburg, Virginia, about 150 people were forced from their homes after a dam began to overflow.

The Lynchburg Department of Emergency Services said areas near the dam were being evacuated Thursday night.

Authorities said concerns about the dam's failure will continue to be a threat until the water levels can safely be lowered.

The service says a failure of dam could flood parts of Lynchburg with 17 feet (5 metres) of water in just seven minutes.

Local outlet WDBJ7 said a number of people whose homes were deemed to be at risk had been evacuated to nearby schools, along with their pets.

Lynchburg is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 50 miles from Roanoke.

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.

The dam was built in the early '30s and, like many dams in the usa, doesn't meet current safety standards. The dam has been under survey by the city for years as a safety hazard.

Lynchburg Water Resources is working with the University of Lynchburg to deal with this situation.

"We are developing a plan to stabilize the dam which may include opening the sluice gate at the dam to reduce the water levels", the city said in a statement, adding those downstream should not see significant flooding if that occurs.

The dam was inspected last week, and they didn't find any cause for concern. City officials posted pictures Thursday of rescuers using a raft to take families from a flood-threatened apartment complex as well as the partial collapse of one road into an adjacent creek. More recent projections have placed the fix costs at $10 million.

Given the condition of the dam and the state of the lake, Perrow says, the most likely "fix" isn't actually a repair - he says the city is likely to tear the dam down completely and replace it with a bridge.

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