An old dam in Lynchburg, Virginia, prompted fear of collapse because heavy rain


Lynchburg has seen an exceptional amount of rain so far in 2018.  Up to six inches of rain fell within hours, filling College Lake beyond capacity. Massive evacuation was ordered. Emergency response officials have started sending out boats and squads to rescue people. The National Weather Service on Thursday night warned  the College Lake Dam could fail and if it does “the water depth at Lynchburg could exceed 17 feet in 7 minutes.” The dam was intact Friday morning but water has been moving over it and into Blackwater Creek about 2 miles southwest of downtown Lynchburg.

Water over dam

Rain has saturated parts of the East for days, with flash-flood watches in effect Friday morning for millions from Georgia to Vermont. Some parts of Lynchburg are already flooded. The city’s Department of Emergency Services urged people living on a number of roads near the dam to evacuate Thursday night. Officials have opened a local high school as a temporary shelter. College Lake Dam was built in the 1930s and is listed among “high hazard dams” in need of repair in Virginia. The potential for more heavy rain continues. The dam “is being closely monitored … for any signs of structural failure.”


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