UPDATE: Evacuation order lifted, lake to be drained for dam repairs

Photo: City of Lynchburg

LYNCHBURG CITY UPDATE:  The evacuation order for areas below College Lake Dam has been lifted. Residents still at the evacuation center and other locations may return home. Wiley|Wilson continues to have rotating shifts monitoring the dam and spillway. The sluice was opened Saturday morning in order to dewater the lake. During future rain events, water may accumulate, however, the sluice will remain open and water will continue to run through the emergency spillway. Blackwater Creek will form a channel through the lakebed area. The public is strongly advised to not walk on the lake bed due to unstable sediment. In addition, the public is asked to please heed all emergency tape and barriers, and to not access the stream area near the dam or to climb on rock walls located near the dam.

Lakeside Drive will remain closed until further notice. The City will work to stabilize the dam and the roadway, which may take 6-8 weeks, depending on the length of the permitting process with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The short-term plan is to stabilize Lakeside Drive in order to open both lanes of traffic. Future decisions regarding the status of the dam and the bridge will be determined in the coming weeks.

Additionally, Creekside Trail is closed until further notice due to trail bridge failures.

SATURDAY AM: Due to the recent storm event and flooding issues that resulted, Lakeside Drive near the College Lake Dam/Bridge will be closed for at least six to eight weeks while the roadway is repaired. The goal is to reopen Lakeside Drive completely within this timeframe. In the meantime, detour signs have been posted. We appreciate the public’s continued patience as we work to restore traffic access to this area.

Lynchburg officials say  will open a small sluice on the spillway Saturday in order to begin lowering the reservoir.  Once the water levels are lowered, then initial repairs can begin on the dam embankment and the roadway. Officials say residents who have been evacuated will not be able to return to their homes until further notice. Officials hope to announce a possible return time frame by the end of Saturday. City officials say evacuation areas are being monitored by the Lynchburg Police Department. Motorists and pedestrians are asked to not cross barricades for the safety of residents and first responders. The emergency shelter established at E.C. Glass High School will remain open as long as necessary for residents displaced by flooding and from evacuated areas. Pets are being permitted in the emergency shelter. Residents with questions regarding evacuations may call 2-1-1 for assistance.

FRIDAY PM: Lynchburg City officials say the College Lake Dam is stable — but with continuing concerns over any additional rainfall through tonight, the all-clear is not yet sounded for those downstream who had to evacuate last night. Water Resources Director Tim Mitchell spoke at an afternoon news conference:
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He says crews will monitor the dam around the clock in coming days just to be sure, and plans are in the works to make repairs. Meantime, a shelter at E.C. Glass will remain open.  Ginny Huntington with Lynchburg’s Department of Social Services says about 90% of those housed last night were dam-related evacuees, but the rest are flooded out of their homes or apartments and need help finding new places to live:

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Police ask you to not trying removing or driving around street barricades — and avoid any thoughts of trying to drive through high water.

Lynchburg has created a map allowing residents to enter their address and see if they are in the potential flood zone. CLICK HERE to see the map.

PREVIOUS: Lynchburg city engineers and rescue workers continue to monitor the College Lake Dam area and those 124 home that could be in danger. A deluge of rain prompted evacuations last night below the dam. The National Weather Service said up to six inches of rain fell within hours, filling College Lake beyond capacity. The service says a failure of the College Lake Dam could flood parts of Lynchburg with 17 feet of water in just seven minutes. Officials were still looking for signs of structural failure early Friday as water spilling over the dam. Local fire and police were sending boats to rescue people to area shelters.

Lynchburg City officials say Lakeside Drive will remain closed today between Moorman Road and the University of Lynchburg entrance.

FROM VDOT:  As of 10:15 a.m., a number of roads remain closed in Campbell County due to heavy rain yesterday evening and through the overnight.

Portions of Rainbow Forest Drive, Jefferson Drive and Oak Trail are closed due to downed power lines. Alum Springs Road, Town Fork Road, and Yellowstone Drive remain flooded. In addition, Greenwell Court is closed near Timberlake Road due to washout.

Additional rain is forecast and more closures may occur. Motorists are urged to avoid driving in these significant storms and to not drive through floodwaters on roadways.

 

 

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