Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure

Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure

Parts of Virginia city evacuate over possible dam failure

Heavy rains Thursday filled College Lake near Lynchburg beyond capacity, prompting officials to report that the lake's dam was in danger of "imminent failure".

The National Weather Service said up to six inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell within hours Thursday, filling a dam at College Lake, near Lynchburg, Virgnia, beyond capacity.

Evacuation orders have been issued in parts of Lynchburg, Virginia, over fears a dam may fail amid flooding.

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

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.

LuAnn Hunt, a city spokeswoman, tells NPR that 94 people took shelter at a local high school that's serving as an evacuation center. The city of Lynchburg owns the dam and is responsible for its upkeep. The dam has been under survey by the city for years as a safety hazard.

The National Weather Service, warning of the "dangerous situation", said early Friday that "runoff from Thursday's heavy rainfall will continue to cause flooding across the area". A flash flood watch remains in effect for much of central and western Virginia, while central Lynchburg is under a flash flood warning.

Experts say the threat will last through Friday, as heavy rains are expected to return in the afternoon and evening.

The dam at College Lake, adjacent to the University of Lynchburg, was built in 1934, according to the school's website. Liberty University, the Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell, is also located in Lynchburg. The original surface area of the lake was reported to be 44 acres and has been reduced to 19 acres due to sedimentation.

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 risky floodwaters.

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