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Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Parts of Lynchburg, Virginia, evacuate over possible dam failure

Parts of Lynchburg, Virginia, evacuate over possible dam failure

"Officials have reported that flooding over Lakeside Drive has ended and that water is holding within the shores of College Lake", according to a statement from the National Weather Service (NWS). "Should a dam failure occur, water along Blackwater and Ivy Creeks may rise several feet within a few minutes, with very swift currents", the bulletin said.

Late Thursday into Friday, water was overflowing the top of the dam and officials said it on was the brink of failure due to recent heavy rainfall.

The University of Lynchburg was not ordered to evacuate, officials said, because it is not downstream from the dam.

The earthen dam was intact Friday morning, the weather service said in an update, but water has been moving over it and into Blackwater Creek about 2 miles southwest of downtown Lynchburg.

Piper Van De Perre, the spokeswoman for the city's Department of Emergency Services, told CNN affiliate WDBJ-TV early Friday morning that crews were targeting a list of 124 homes for evacuation that are at imminent threat of dam breach. Local fire and police used boats to rescue people.

There is some good news in the forecast: Following two weeks of relentlessly wet weather in the eastern US, a drier weather pattern will move in over the weekend and into early next week, AccuWeather said. The area impacted would be the city of Lynchburg, which is one mile downstream from the dam.

But officials said they would like to get through another possible storm and re-evaluate the dam Saturday before giving residents the all clear to return home.

Rain has saturated parts of the East for days, with flash-flood watches in effect for millions from Georgia to Vermont.

If the dam bursts, Lynchburg could be flooded with up to 17ft (six metres) of water in just seven minutes.

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

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