Lynchburg flood: College Lake Dam failure - emergency evacuations

04 August, 2018, 00:28 | Author: Rachel Logan
  • Fast-moving flood waters near Lynchburg Virginia

Authorities near Lynchburg in the USA state of Virginia sought to evacuate more than 100 people after weather forecasters warned that heavy rainfall could cause a dam to fail and flood the city.

If a complete failure of the dam occurs, the water depth at Lynchburg could exceed 17 feet in 7 minutes.

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

The University of Lynchburg, which sits next to College Lake, is open Friday.

County officials, who reported the College Lake Dam was near collapse late Thursday, continued to look for signs of structural failure Friday as water continued to spill over the structure.

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The dam was intact Friday morning, the weather service said in an update, but water has been moving over it and into Blackwater Creek about two miles southwest of downtown Lynchburg.

Several roads already were flooded or closed at that time, with local fire and police departments sending out boats and squads to rescue people.

The west-central Virginia city near the Blue Ridge Mountains has received plenty of runoff from recent rains, with 4 to 6 inches falling in the area Thursday evening and filling College Lake beyond its capacity. The Virginia Department of Transportation built it in 1934.

A flash flood warning has been issued and residents in the area have been told to move to higher ground immediately. It is located in a critical position, according to the university, for capturing surface waters from multiple sources of the Blackwater Creek watershed just before emptying into the James River. The original surface area of the lake was reported to be 44 acres and has been reduced to 19 acres due to sedimentation. The city of Lynchburg owns the dam and is responsible for its upkeep.

The dam was built in the early '30s and, like many dams in the USA, doesn't meet current safety standards.

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