Lynchburg residents evacuated as flood waters overtop dam

Water rescue in Lynchburg

If it fails completely, the water depth in Lynchburg could exceed 17 feet in 7 minutes.

"Currently, they have found no seepage at the dam so it is considered stable", Jes Gearing, public information officer for Lynchburg Water Resources, said in a statement emailed to NPR.

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

A press conference is scheduled to be held at 3 p.m. for an update.

Photos from Thursday showed muddy water deluging the dam and the road that separates College Lake from Blackwater Creek, while rescuers were shown using rafts to ferry people from their apartments to safety.

Local fire and police used boats to rescue people.

Flooding in Lynchburg
Water rescue in Lynchburg Flooding in Lynchburg

Turner Perrow, a member of the Lynchburg City Council who is also a civil engineer, tells NPR that the dam presents "a complicated problem".

Almost a hundred people have been evacuated from their homes in Lynchburg, Va., after an intense storm amid concerns that an aging dam might fail and unleash unsafe floodwaters. The Virginia Department of Transportation built it in 1934.

The NWS issued a flash flood watch for the area that lasts until 11 a.m. Friday.

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

There is some good news in the forecast: Following two weeks of relentlessly wet weather in the eastern US, a drier weather pattern will move in over the weekend and into early next week, AccuWeather said. Since then, the city has continued to analyze the dam to determine how to move forward. The original surface area of the lake was reported to be 44 acres and has been reduced to 19 acres due to sedimentation.

The National Weather Service says up to 6 inches of rain fell within hours, filling College Lake near Lynchburg, Virginia beyond capacity.

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