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Watershed event: Hope Mills Lake full after five years

Posted August 29, 2008

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— Unlike the flooding caused elsewhere in North Carolina by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay, the storm provided a welcome sight in Hope Mills.

Hope Mills Lake is now full for the first time in five years.

"This lake is Hope Mills," local resident Jim Dew said.

Torrential rains on Memorial Day 2003 washed away the lake's earthen dam, and the town spent years trying to finance a new dam. Construction on a $9.8 million concrete dam was completed earlier this year, and the town began refilling the lake in June.

When it rains hard, as it did Thursday, floodwater just spills over the top of the new dam and cascades down a fish ladder.

Hope Mills Police Chief John Hodges said three canoes were on the lake Thursday night. The rapids at the spillway were apparently too powerful a temptation, and they shot right over the dam, he said.

"We thought they were just hollering for help, but I think they were just having a good time," Hodges said. "They made it down and went on down the creek, and we don't know where they came out."

By Friday, the lake level began dropping again. The dam isn't quite ready to impound all of the water, Mayor Eddie Dees said.

The town is awaiting permits from the state dam inspector, which Dees said should be finalized by middle or late September. Then, crews will be able to close the channels on either side of the dam and impound the water.

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