Evacuations begin in Lynchburg, Virginia, over fears of dam break

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"Flood waters entering Blackwater Creek from College Lake will continue into Ivy Creek before entering the James River".

A flash flood warning issued Thursday night by the NWS reports "if a complete failure of the dam occurs, the water depth at Lynchburg could exceed 17 feet in 7 minutes".

The service said county officials reported the dam's "imminent failure" at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday. The dam "is being closely monitored ... for any signs of structural failure" as another inch or so of rain is expected Friday near Lynchburg, 50 miles east of Roanoke, according to the National Weather Service.

Local fire and police sent boats to rescue people to area shelters late Thursday as some creeks were already feeling the overflow from the dam. A flash flood watch was in effect until 11 a.m.

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The Lynchburg Sheriff's Office says the E.C. Glass High School auditorium is available for any residents who are evacuating their homes.

"The worst case scenario if that dam does breach, officials are anxious it might, is that water would go surging downhill into Lynchburg and it could drown that city in 17 feet of water in about 7 minutes".

The fear of widespread flooding was triggered by a deluge in rain-soaked Virginia that brought up to 3 inches of rain in one hour to the Lynchburg area Thursday.

"About 200yards down that hill is a dam, behind that dam is a reservoir, College Lake".

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The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation listed College Lake Dam as being "high hazard" in 2011, estimating at the time that it would cost $4.5 million to fix.

Since 2014, the City Council has been considering options for repairing or replacing the dam.

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. The school said it is open Friday, though its entrance on Lakeside Drive was closed. Pets are also allowed.

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