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Flood threat forces evacuation in Lafayette County, Miss. community

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 9:55 PM CDT
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LAFAYETTE COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - The threat of flooding forced residents in one Lafayette County community out of their homes Wednesday.

It happened in an are just north of Oxford. Crews watched and worked to keep overflowing waters from breaching a dam. The threat caused some residents to evacuate.

“I’m very relieved,” said resident Greg Hamrick. “I’m very happy. I thought I would have to evacuate.”

Hamrick did not have to evacuate like some of his neighbors. The problem came when the Tara Estates lake started flooding. The water created a trough in the dirt, sending it down hill.

Hamrick says it might not look like it, but if the dam by the lake was breached, it could have created a big problem.

“You could see a lot of flooding out of that place,” he said.

The lake and dam are owned by the Tara Estates Homeowners Association. State investigators said when neighbors saw the water flowing, the county was notified immediately. Fire crews quickly started pumping the water out of the lake to lower the level and stop a breach of the dam.

Willie McKercher, chief of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Dam Safety Division, said the problem happened when a pipe that controlled the water level failed due to age, causing the water to flow outside the pipe.

“Once that happens, it can get into uncontrolled release pretty quickly and wash away the interior of the dam, leading to a dam failure,” he explained.

McKercher said the neighborhood association knew the pipe needed to be replaced. There’s a new white pipe on the ground that will replace the old pipe. The contractor planned to the replacement in July.

McKercher says the state will bring in equipment to lower the lake level even more in case more rain creates a problem.

The crews will stay in the area throughout the night and Thursday to watch the lake to make sure problems do not happen. McKercher says the homeowners will not have to pay for the work because the state has a federal grant for the equipment that will be used.

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