Evacuations in rain-stricken Virginia amid concern dam might collapse

Lynchburg floods: Flooding dam sparks evacuations in US city

Officials in Virginia fear dam will collapse as heavy rain forces evacuations

The service says a failure of dam could flood parts of Lynchburg with 17 feet (5 metres) of water in just seven minutes.

"Should a dam failure occur, water along Blackwater and Ivy Creeks may rise several feet within a few minutes, with very swift currents", the bulletin said.

At 919 PM EDT, county dispatch reported the imminent failure of College Lake Dam on the Blackwater Creek.

Residents in the Virginia city of Lynchburg were ordered to evacuate their homes amid fears Friday morning that a dam could fail and flood the city.

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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.

Local fire and police sent boats to rescue people to area shelters, including E.C.Glass High School and Sandusky Middle School.

The west-central Virginia city near the Blue Ridge Mountains has received plenty of runoff from recent rains, and 4 to 6 inches of rain fell in the area Thursday evening, filling College Lake beyond its capacity. The area impacted would be the city of Lynchburg, which is one mile downstream from the dam. The city owns the dam, but the university owns the lake.

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

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The heavy rain in Virginia is part of a sprawling weather system bringing the threat of flooding all the way from the Carolinas to New England.

The dam at College Lake, adjacent to the University of Lynchburg, was built in 1934, according to the school's website.

Officials say people who were evacuated may not be able to return to their homes for at least 24 hours, WDBJ reports.

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

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"At this time, the dam has not failed and is being closely monitored by emergency personnel for any signs of structural failure", the weather service said in a statement.

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