Local News

Hope Mills residents eager for repaired dam, refilled lake

Posted July 18, 2014

— After going without a lake for nine of the past 11 years, residents of Hope Mills are looking forward to the day when water once again backs up behind the Hope Mills Dam.

"We used to go out our front door and jump in a boat and ski," Sunday McHenry, who has lived on Hope Mills Lake for 40 years, said Friday.

McHenry was there when the earthen dam that held back the lake waters collapsed in a storm in 2003. She was there when a new dam was built in 2008. And she watched in disbelief two years later when the lake drained because of a sinkhole under the dam.

Town officials this week agreed to a $9.4 million settlement from the engineering and construction firms that designed and built the $14 million dam to end litigation over the structure's failure.

Mike Mitchell, a former town commissioner, said Hope Mills officials are moving fast to repair the dam, and he said it's going to be done right this time.

"The new engineer of record will go through everything and decide if any modifications should be made to the plan," Mitchell said, adding that the state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, which oversees dam safety and inspections, has already signed off on the repair plans.

McHenry said she always felt something was wrong with the dam before the 2010 failure.

"When they built this, our house shook," she said. "The windows shook – vibrated – and all over the town, you could feel the windows, and it vibrated."

She said she is looking forward to launching her swan paddle boat with her grandchildren when the lake fills back up, which should be by early 2016, and hopes the firms repairing the dam get everything right.

"It all sounds good. I hope it goes up to the right water level this time because last time it didn't," she said. "A lot of people built their piers, and we got all ready for it, then the water just didn't match with our piers the way it was supposed to."

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