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

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

Officials evacuated people from more than 100 homes in the city of 80,000.

Local fire and police were sending boats to rescue people to area shelters.

He said that they were now focused on evacuations and road closures near and around the dam, warning that more could be on the way.

Engineers have been assessing the situation at College Lake Dam.

Evacuated residents were told to expect a decision about whether they could return to their homes, or if it was too risky to do so, in the early afternoon.

Authorities were still being cautious.

The National Weather Service has a flash flood watch in effect through Friday evening.

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College Lake Dam, in Lynchburg, Virginia, was on the brink of failure on Friday due to recently heavy rainfall. Liberty University, the Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell, is also located in Lynchburg.

The dam was built in the 1930s by the Virginia Department of Highways and is now listed among "high hazard dams" in need of fix in Virginia.

"For the first time in probably 50 years or more, the emergency sluiceway at the bottom of College Lake dam has been opened and the lake is slowly starting to empty", according to the statement.

"We're still concerned about its overall stability going into tonight and tomorrow morning", said Tim Mitchell, the city's director of water resources. City officials posted pictures Thursday of rescuers using a raft to take families from a flood-threatened apartment complex as well as the partial collapse of one road into an adjacent creek.

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

And every proposed fix would cost millions of dollars. 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. It said there is "the possibility that [it] may fail", potentially dumping 5.2 metres of water in seven minutes on the city.

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