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

In a dire warning Thursday night, the National Weather Service reported the College Lake Dam could fail, and if it does, "the water depth at Lynchburg could exceed 17 feet in 7 minutes".

Heavy rains sent water spilling over a dam in Lynchburg, Virginia, spurring fears that it could collapse, but Friday officials said the 84-year-old structure was "currently stable and. there is no immediate fear of dam failure".

The University of Lynchburg, which sits next to College Lake, is open Friday.

Later Friday, officials from the city said the inspection showed "the structure is now stable and that there is no immediate fear of dam 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".

A deluge of rain in Virginia has prompted evacuations below an overflowing dam in Lynchburg.

"Although water levels have decreased, the threat for dam failure continues", and emergency personnel will check for signs of structural failure, the agency said.

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

"We're still concerned about its overall stability going into tonight and tomorrow morning", said Tim Mitchell, the city's director of water resources.

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.

The dam infrastructure is in a critical state after heavy downpours boosted water levels. A flash flood watch remains in effect for much of central and western Virginia, while central Lynchburg is under a flash flood warning.

Should the dam collapse, floodwaters would move from the creek into the James River near Lynchburg's business district.

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

One to three more inches of rain are expected to fall Friday.