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Officials monitoring dam at Oktibbeha County Lake for potential failure

Updated - Campanella said EMA will issue a Code Red and activate sirens to alert residents about a mandatory evacuation.

Posted: Jan 15, 2020 10:28 AM
Updated: Jan 16, 2020 10:09 AM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - The water level at Oktibbeha County Lake rose at least a foot overnight Wednesday and continues to stress the lake’s dam.

On Tuesday, emergency management officials said heavy rains could cause the dam to fail at any time.

The county set up pipes to relieve pressure off the dam and divert water. | Source: Ryan Phillips/Starkville Daily News

A Flash Flood Warning was issued for the area east of the lake.

This is a larger image showing the Flash Flood Warning in red.

County Engineer Clyde Pritchard inspected the dam Wednesday morning. 

According to Oktibbeha County EMA Director Kristen Campanella, the county agency will have someone at the lake around the clock monitoring the water level and the condition of a nearby landslide.

If the landslide continues to progress, EMA will consider upgrading to an emergency classification and could issue a mandatory evacuation.

The dam is located between Riviera Road and Walter Bell Road just north of Perkins Drive.

Campanella said residents on those roads should evacuate immediately. She said the evacuation is not mandatory at this time, but residents in the area near the dam should move a safe distance away.

WTVA reporter Sydney Darden spoke with officials and residents about the evacuations. Open this link to watch her story.

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 will be located at the First Baptist Church Outreach Center at 210 S. Jackson St. in Starkville. This is a pet-free shelter. The Oktibbeha County Humane Society will board pets. It's located at 510 Industrial Park Rd. in Starkville.

Oktibbeha County EMA officials held another briefing at 2 p.m.

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