MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. – Officials in McDowell County announced that the Lake Tahoma dam has been deemed safe following an inspection by engineers, canceling the mandatory evacuation order for thousands of residents living south of the dam.
Early Wednesday morning, the evacuation order was given following a landslide near the dam from the remnants of Alberto moving through the region. McDowell County Emergency Management issued the following statement just after 10 a.m.:
The emergency at Lake Tahoma has been canceled. The evacuation order is no longer in effect. The engineer has performed a safety inspection and determined that the evacuation order is no longer needed.
Please remain alert for additional updates, as additional rainfall is expected this afternoon. We appreciate the public's understanding during this storm.Once again the mandatory evacuation order for all residents below Lake Tahoma has been canceled.
According to McDowell County Emergency Management, an engineer at the dam recommended a “Level 1 Emergency” around 1 a.m. McDowell County authorities issued the evacuation order saying the dam was in “imminent failure.”
The National Weather Service stated that a flash flood emergency was in place for McDowell County, including the cities of Marion and Old Fort.
According to the National Weather Service, floodwaters have reached levels not seen since the floods of September 2004 following Hurricanes Frances and Ivan.
A mudslide Tuesday night shut down two westbound lanes of I-40 and one lane of eastbound traffic near Exit 66. McDowell County Schools are closed Wednesday. Charlotte Fire Department said in a tweet that they're preparing a second swift water rescue team for deployment to western North Carolina.
In Catawba County, emergency workers remain concerned about low-lying bridges being susceptible to flash flooding.
Catawba County Emergency Management Coordinator Karyn Yaussy warned flooded bridges are dangerous for drivers.
"If you can't see the painted lines on the road, then it's too deep for you to drive through it," Yaussy said. "It only takes a few inches of water to knock a full-size man over and it takes about 12-18 inches to move a vehicle even a big truck."