Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure

Kipp Teague

Kipp Teague

The dam was deemed intact Friday morning, CNN reported, although water has continued to cascade over the dam and into Blackwater Creek, which is two miles from downtown Lynchburg.

County officials, who reported the College Lake Dam was near collapse late Thursday, continued to look for signs of structural failure Friday as water continued to spill over the structure.

Days of torrential rains have left a dam near Lynchburg, Virginia, at risk of "imminent failure", prompting evacuations in the area.

Late Thursday, officials began evacuating residents in threatened areas close to the dam.

Piper Van dePerre, with the Lynchburg Department of Emergency Services, told WDBJ that officials planned to evacuate more than 100 residents.

"Lynchburg received 1.35 inches of rain on Thursday and 2.00 inches so far this month", AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.

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

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The weather service has extended a flash flood warning for the region through Friday evening because of the possibility of additional showers and thunderstorms.

In 2011, Virginia's Department of Conservation and Recreation identified the College Lake Dam as one of the state's "high-hazard" dams.

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

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. 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.

Speaking from Lynchburg, CBS's Chip Reid warned the eastern American city could be flooded within 7 minutes.

"The public is strongly advised to not walk on the lake bed due to unstable sediment", according to the city's statement.

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