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Authorities near Lynchburg in the usa state of Virginia sought to evacuate more than 100 people after weather forecasters warned that heavy rainfall could cause a dam to fail and flood the city.

She said the plan next was to open a 3-foot by 3-foot sluice in order to lower reservoir levels to make it more safe.

Lynchburg, Virginia, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 50 miles from Roanoke.

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

The deluge of rain that affected much of Virginia on Thursday, causing road closures and power outages in the Shenandoah Valley, has prompted evacuations in Lynchburg, just below an overflowing dam. Since then, the city has continued to analyze the dam to determine how to move forward.

The dam was built in the early '30s and, like many dams in the USA, doesn't meet current safety standards.




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

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.

Crews know the dam is damaged but are working to figure out how bad it is. The lake behind it is filled with silt, which complicates potential solutions - if they removed the dam, for instance, they would need to ensure that the silt didn't cause other problems downstream. 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.

"This dam is in worse shape than we thought it was", Perrow says.

Gearing says they have never had a situation like this since the dam was built in 1934.


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