Thousands ordered to flee after landslide near N.C. dam

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Thousands of people were being evacuated early Wednesday after a landslide caused by heavy rains raised fears about the integrity of a dam in North Carolina, officials said.

Residents living below Lake Tahoma were ordered to leave after the dam was inspected by an engineer.

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

Thousands ordered to flee after landslide near N.C. dam
Thousands ordered to flee after landslide near N.C. dam

The National Weather Service said a flash flood emergency was in place for McDowell County, which includes the city of Marion, home to around 7,800 people, and Old Fort, population 900. Authorities urged residents to seek higher ground immediately.

Lake Tahoma is about five miles northwest of Marion, which is about 36 miles east of Asheville.

The flash flood emergency was scheduled to remain in place until 10:30 a.m. ET.

As of 4:15 a.m. ET, officials in McDowell County continued to report “widespread flooding due to heavy rainfall of 4-6 inches over the past 24 hours,” the NWS said. “This is causing significant and life-threatening flooding county wide.”

Image: Lake Tahoma
Residents living below Lake Tahoma in North Carolina were ordered to evacuate.Bing Maps

It added: “Floodwaters have reached levels not seen since the September 2004 floods associated with Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. Numerous evacuations of residences, businesses, and campgrounds, road closures, water rescues, and landslides are ongoing.”

Our campground site here at River Breeze in marion is completely underwater. Be safe people! @WSOCWeather@EricThomasWBTV@FOX46News@wsoctvpic.twitter.com/DpK1tRc0hX

— Zach Lowder (@Z_Lowder14) May 30, 2018

McDowell County officials said at 6:11 a.m. ET that the risk of imminent failure remained at Lake Tahoma Dam and that the evacuations would continue until engineers could thoroughly inspect the dam during daylight hours.

William Kehler, McDowell County’s emergency services director, told NBC News that “several thousand” people lived in the mandatory evacuation zone. As of 3:20 a.m. ET, no injuries or fatalities had been reported.

McDowell county emergency management reports water is spilling around the sides of Lake Tahoma dam. Evacuations ongoing south of the dam. THIS IS A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. HEED ALL EVACUATION ORDERS IMMEDIATELY! If you are not threatened by floodwaters, shelter in place.

— NWS GSP (@NWSGSP) May 30, 2018

The rain is part of the soggy remnants of Alberto, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Flash flood watches were in effect early Wednesday for parts of several states from Alabama through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, the Carolinas and Virginia and West Virginia.

Image: North Carolina mudslide
A mudslide shut down three lanes of traffic on I-40 in North Carolina overnight.WCNC

A television news anchor and a photojournalist were killed Monday while covering the weather, when a tree became uprooted from rain-soaked ground and toppled onto their SUV in North Carolina.

NBC affiliate WYFF of Greenville, South Carolina, said news anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were killed.

WYFF News 4 anchor Mike McCormick and WYFF News 4 photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer died Monday when a tree fell on their SUV. https://t.co/VZZKA6K6qq All of us at WYFF News 4 are grieving. We are a family. pic.twitter.com/IQmZ6prUIH

— WYFF News 4 (@wyffnews4) May 28, 2018

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