Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure

Saul Bowman
August 6, 2018

The service says a failure of the College Lake Dam could flood parts of Lynchburg with 17 feet (5 meters) of water in just seven minutes. To assist with this project, Lynchburg College gave a piece of its land to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the construction of an earthen dam which impounded Blackwater Creek and created College Lake on the property of then Lynchburg College.

Even though it's near College Lake, The University of Lynchburg did not evacuate as it isn't downstream of the dam.

Officials in Lynchburg, in south-central Virginia, pronounced an endangered dam as "stable and safe" Friday afternoon, hours after they had warned the dam faced "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". The dam "is being closely monitored ... for any signs of structural failure" as another inch or so of rain is expected Friday near Lynchburg, 50 miles east of Roanoke, according to the National Weather Service.

Because of the torrential rainfall, residents of the city's threatened areas were evacuated to a local school, which was converted into a shelter, during a two hour period Thursday beginning at 8pm, the News & Advance reported.

A flash flood watch was in effect until 11 a.m. ET.

That will relieve pressure on the damaged dam and aid in repairs.

WDBJ reported that crews worked to evacuate 124 residences - in the city of 80,000 - on several roads near the dam.

The area has been pounded for days with rain, and the NWS warned early Friday that there was the possibility of more showers and thunderstorms through Friday night, with up to 3 more inches of precipitation.

Emergency officials orchestrated boat rescues of families from an apartment complex on Greenwood Drive in Lynchburg, Virginia, Thursday, Aug. 2.

The lake is the largest urban lake in Lynchburg.

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