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

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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.

Heavy rains have caused flooding in Lynchburg, Virginia, prompting officials to order evacuations out of fears that a weakened dam could break and cover the city in several feet of water.

But by early afternoon Friday, officials said the dam was stable, and were considering opening a sluice gate at the dam to help reduce the water in the lake, according to a statement from Lynchburg Water Resources.

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

A press conference is scheduled at 3 p.m. Friday.

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Local fire and police used boats to rescue people. The News & Advance reports 12 to 18 inches of water were flowing out of the dam, over a road, and into a creek after three inches of rain fell in a single hour.

A flash flood warning has been issued and residents in the area have been told to move to higher ground immediately. The dam has been under survey by the city for years as a safety hazard. Liberty University, the Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell, is also located in Lynchburg.

People who live in the low-lying area of Blackwater Creek to the James River would be impacted most.

There is some good news in the forecast: Following two weeks of relentlessly wet weather in the eastern USA, a drier weather pattern will move in over the weekend and into early next week, AccuWeather said.

City officials posted pictures Thursday of rescuers using a raft to take families from a flood-threatened apartment complex as well as the partial collapse of one road into an adjacent creek. The National Weather Service said up to 15 centimetres of rain fell within hours, filling the dam beyond capacity.