Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure

Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure

People are evacuating from Blackwater Creek Trail in Lynchburg because the College Lake Dam may fail. Water is now overflowing from the lake.

"About 200yards down that hill is a dam, behind that dam is a reservoir, College Lake".

Heavy rains Thursday filled College Lake beyond capacity, prompting officials to report that the lake's dam was in danger of "imminent failure".

"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".

"Lynchburg received 1.35 inches of rain on Thursday and 2.00 inches so far this month", AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.

"Although water levels have decreased, the threat for dam failure continues", and emergency personnel will check for signs of structural failure, the agency said. The city said it would open a gate in the spillway on Saturday to drain some of the water from the reservoir before fix work could begin on the dam and roadway. A flash flood watch was in effect until 11 a.m.

Local fire and police were sending boats to rescue people to area shelters. A major road for the city crosses over top of the dam, which is located right next to the University of Lynchburg.

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The collapse of the dam would cause significant damage to homes and businesses.

Officials had warned late Thursday that its collapse would inundate parts of the city with 17 feet of water in just seven minutes.

Residents of threatened areas were asked to evacuate on Thursday evening.

Parts of that area saw three to five inches of rain in a three hour span.

"The public is strongly advised to not walk on the lake bed due to unstable sediment", according to the city's statement.

Around 130 residents downstream of College Lake were evacuated the night before after a deluge on rain hit the area.

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