Evacuations underway in Lynchburg, heavy rain may cause dam to fail

Evacuations underway in Lynchburg, heavy rain may cause dam to fail

Evacuations underway in Lynchburg, heavy rain may cause dam to fail

The National Weather Service reported if the dam does fail, "the water depth at Lynchburg could exceed 17 feet in 7 minutes".

College Lake sits adjacent to the University of Lynchburg, and the dam was built in 1934 by the Virginia Department of Highways.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated in Virginia after a National Weather Service (NWS) warning sparked fears of a dam burst.

Lynchburg Director of Water Resources Tim Mitchell said at a 3 p.m. news conference that the dam would continue to be watched around the clock.

A flash flood warning was to remain in effect until 11:30 a.m. Friday and the weather service warned residents in low-lying areas north of the dam to move to higher ground immediately.

The area received somewhere between 4 and 6 inches of rain Thursday evening, filling College Lake and flowing over its dam.

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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.

Lynchburg has a population of about 80,000.

The City of Lynchburg has created an interactive map to see if you're in a potential flooding area should the College Lake Dam fail. 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 city's Department of Emergency Services urged people living on a number of roads near the dam to evacuate Thursday night.

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

Given the condition of the dam and the state of the lake, Perrow says, the most likely "fix" isn't actually a repair - he says the city is likely to tear the dam down completely and replace it with a bridge.

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