Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Hundreds evacuated in Virginia after dam overflows

Hundreds evacuated in Virginia after dam overflows

A failure of the College Lake Dam near Lynchburg could flood the city with 17 feet (5 meters) of water in seven minutes, news outlets reported Thursday evening, citing statements from the National Weather Service.

Heavy rains sent water spilling over the dam, spurring fears that it could collapse, it has already prompted some home evacuations in the city of roughly 80,000 people.

Photos from Thursday showed muddy water deluging the dam and the road that separates College Lake from Blackwater Creek, while rescuers were shown using rafts to ferry people from their apartments to safety.

Over 100 people are being forced from their homes in Lynchburg as crews monitor a dam in danger of failing.

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.

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. The city of Lynchburg owns the dam and is responsible for its upkeep.

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Recommendations from the investigation called for either rehabilitating the dam or having it completely decommissioned.

In 2011, Virginia's Department of Conservation and Recreation identified the College Lake Dam as one of the state's "high-hazard" dams.

And every proposed fix would cost millions of dollars. The term is unrelated to the actual structural integrity of the dam. Parts of Pennsylvania have gotten about half a foot of rain since Thursday night - and it will keep falling into Saturday in many places.

A press conference is scheduled to be held at 3 p.m. for an update.

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

Then, Gearing said, workers can stabilize the bridge in preparation for the next storm approaching.

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