Overflowing Virginia dam could flood rain-soaked city in matter of minutes, officials warn
Massive evacuations have been ordered in a Virginia city after a deluge of rain overnight sparked fears that a nearby dam could overflow and spread upwards of 17 inches of water in just seven minutes.
Authorities have evacuated parts of Lynchburg, Va., in preparation of what county officials reported as the “imminent failure” of the College Lake Dam. They are still looking for signs of structural failure early Friday as water spilling over the dam, threatening about 124 houses in the city of 80,000 people.
The National Weather Service said up to six inches of rain fell within hours, filling College Lake beyond capacity.
Officials have opened a local high school as a temporary shelter and the Red Cross of Virginia is working to stock the shelter with supplies, FOX station WFXR-TV in Roanoke reported.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed water gushing from College Lake.
“It’s pretty much sickening. I can’t believe that. It’s the worst I’ve seen in all the eight years I’ve lived here,” Jeff Saunders, who came home to his top floor apartment to find water reaching his front door, told the News & Advance of Lynchburg. “I’m just relieved [people who were rescued] are OK.”
It was unclear how many people were being evacuated, but emergency response officials have started sending out boats and squads to rescue people as roads several roads were already flooded.
According to the News & Advance, 15 residents, including children, have been rescued from floodwaters.
The NWS issued a flash flood watch for the area that lasts until early Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.