Authorities in western North Carolina have ordered evacuations in an area south of the Lake Tahoma Dam, which they say is in “imminent danger” of failing after a landslide compromised its structural integrity. The landslide was set off by heavy rainfall associated with Alberto, which made landfall as a subtropical storm on Memorial Day.
The National Weather Service tweeted an urgent message:
MCDOWELL COUNTY UPDATE: A landslide has comprised the integrity of Lake Tahoma Dam. MANDATORY EVACUATIONS underway from the Dam at Lake Shore Dr to Lake Tahoma Rd (NC 80) to the confluence of the Catawba River near Resistoflex Rd and Riverside Park. ACT NOW TO PRESERVE YOUR LIFE!
— NWS GSP (@NWSGSP) May 30, 2018
Local officials said a “class 1 emergency” would be in effect until state inspectors could evaluate the dam in daylight hours.
A state of emergency was declared in McDowell County, reports CBS Spartanburg, S.C. affiliate WSPA-TV.
McDowell County Emergency Management said some 2,000 people from campgrounds and residential communities near the dam and lake had evacuated, with roughly 200 at shelters, adding there may be more later since water levels were expected to rise. Old Fort and Marion are the hardest-hit communities.
Shelters were set up at two churches and a YMCA.
McDowell County Emergency Management Deputy Director Adrienne Jones told The Associated Press five minor injuries have been reported during water rescues as creeks and streams overflowed their banks and rock slides closed roads.