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NWS warns of flooding, dam failure in Carroll

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The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning, which says there is danger of a dam break in southwestern Carroll County, and some residents of Pipers Gap Road are being forced to evacuate.

The alert says the warning is in effect until 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

“At 3:31 p.m., local emergency management reported the imminent failure of an unnamed dam just north of Pipers Gaps Road in southwest Carroll County,” the warning stated. “The dam has not undergone a complete failure yet, but is considered to be in imminent danger."

The Carroll County Sheriff's Department is ordering residents of the 2100 to 2300 blocks of Pipers Gap Road to leave the area immediately.

“Flood waters from a failure would move down the stream below the dam and will reach Wards Mill Branch and then flow into Chesnut Creek. If the dam were to fail, the water depth just below the dam could be up to about 15 feet or more deep, but would attenuate in depth downstream.

“As the water enters Wards Mill Branch and then Chesnut Creek, flood depths would be considerably lower but exactly how much is unknown at this time.”

The warning cautions residents of that area to “Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life.”

Pipers Gap Road is closed from Virginia 89 to Whitney Lane until further notice and is open to emergency personnel only.

The body of water threatening to flood, near Boxwood Lane off of Poplar Knob Road, is a private reservoir or pond held back with an earthen dam, according to Galax Fire Chief David Hankley. He said that those who discovered the dam said it is ready to break in "five minutes or five hours," meaning the exact time is unknown but likely very soon as of its discovery.

City employees discovered the dam's state when they noticed earlier that Chestnut Creek was muddy and at a higher level than normal for low amount of rain, said Hankley. They went looking for the source and discovered the reservoir and its dam.

Fire and rescue departments were cautioned to get boats and water rescue equipment ready.

Police are working at the moment to get school buses safely through the closed-off area.

Update 8:33 p.m.

Galax Fire Chief David Hankley said that a contractor is on site reliveing pressure from the dam by digging trenches to channel the water.

Hankley also said that the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) were on site with a dam engineer to monitor the situation.