If Dam Fails, Flooded City Will Be Under 17 Feet of Water

Screengrab of video showing College Lake Dam overflowing with

Screengrab of video showing College Lake Dam overflowing with

Last night, the National Weather Service warned that the worst-case scenario - a complete dam collapse - could send 17 feet of water into the central Virginia city in just seven minutes.

The service said county officials reported the dam's "imminent failure" at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

The weather service issued a flash flood watch in effect until 6pm Friday, as additional showers and thunderstorms with heavy rain are possible.

Those whose homes are considered at risk due to flooding have been moved to temporary shelters, per the News & Advance, which notes some 5,200 residents of Lynchburg and Timberlake were without power Friday morning.

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With help from first responders, 150 people were evacuated.

College Lake is a manmade lake, built in the early 1930s by the Virginia Department of Highways as part of the development of U.S. Highway 460, west of Lynchburg.

Even though it's near College Lake, The University of Lynchburg did not evacuate as it isn't downstream of the dam.

In 2011, Virginia's Department of Conservation and Recreation identified the College Lake Dam as one of the state's "high-hazard" dams.

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City crews inspect the dam weekly because of its age.

In Lynchburg, they are still a little bit anxious because there is rain in the forecast that the water will add to the water in the reservoir and put pressure on this dam. The road, now US 221, needed expansion and improvement.

The lake's ecosystem is degrading rapidly, the school reports, as it fills with sediment, nutrients and raw sewage, resulting in the rapid development of watershed and stormwater management problems. People wishing to enter the building for use the entrance on the Langhorne Road side of the building.

Images and video posted on the city's Facebook page showed emergency workers rescuing families stranded in an apartment complex by boat.

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Turner Perrow, a member of the Lynchburg City Council who is also a civil engineer, tells NPR that the dam presents "a complicated problem".

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