Oktibbeha County officials reach plan to alleviate pressure against dam

Updated - The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors called an emergency meeting Thursday morning to discuss the status of the dam and solutions to lower the lake’s water level.

Posted: Jan 16, 2020 10:08 AM
Updated: Jan 17, 2020 3:22 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - Engineers and county officials spent Thursday morning assessing the dam at Oktibbeha County Lake for potential failure.

As of Thursday, the dam was still intact. The dam is located alongside the west side of County Lake Road.

Crews roped off the section of roadway near the landslide.

The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors held an emergency meeting Thursday morning.

Officials are monitoring the landslide opposite the dam. | Image taken on Jan. 15, 2020

Officials also continue to monitor a landslide on the opposite side of the road, directly across from the dam.

Heavy rainfall caused the lake’s water level to rise, causing more water to seep through the dam. The excess water softened the embankment on the opposite side of the road.

In the event the dam breaks, the embankment could further deteriorate, causing more water to flood through.

Traffic is still allowed on County Lake Road, but crews blocked off the section of the roadway near the landslide to prevent onlookers.

Authorities urged nearby residents to leave their homes for safer grounds. If the issue becomes worse, the county may have to issue a mandatory evacuation for hundreds of nearby residents.

Oktibbeha County EMA Director Kristen Campanella said EMA will issue a Code Red and activate sirens to alert residents about a mandatory evacuation.

The roads to be closed in the event of a failure:

  • County Lake Road - closed from Highway 82 to Harrell Road
  • Walter Bell Road - closed from County Lake Road to Watershed Drive
  • Perkins Drive
  • Highway 389 - closed from Wade Road to Sudduth Road
  • Reed Road - closed from the Highway 25 bypass to County Lake Road
  • Highway 82 - closed from County Lake Road to the Highway 25 bypass
  • Sun Creek Road - closed from Camp Seminole Road to Highway 389
  • Highway 50 - closed from John Henry Road to Tribble Road
  • Water Well Road

A shelter is currently in place at the First Baptist Church Outreach Center at 210 S. Jackson Street in Starkville.

The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors called an emergency meeting Thursday morning to discuss the status of the dam and solutions to lower the lake’s water level.

The Board is allowing the county EMA to request pumps from the Army Corps of Engineers to help alleviate pressure against the dam. Workers would also demolish a structure called a riser that keeps water in the reservoir, The Associated Press reports.

Once the water has been lowered, the plan is for crews to cut off the dam’s valve to allow for further assessment. This plan would call for the temporary closure of a portion of County Lake Road.

The county hopes to get the pumps in place before Saturday when rain is possible.

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