Local News

Cameron residents consider rebuilding ruptured dam after scare

Posted April 25, 2011 1:02 p.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2011 7:01 p.m. EDT

— Water drained from a man-made lake in eastern Moore County on Monday, prompting flash flood warnings to be issued briefly and leaving nearby homeowners with the prospect of a costly repair.

The 15-acre lake and earthen dam were developed about 20 years ago as part of the Carolina Lake subdivision. Residents noticed Monday morning that the lake's water level had dropped precipitously overnight.

Emergency management officials said the bottom of the pipe that manages the lake level ruptured, causing water to rush out.

"The pipe looks old and rusty, so I'm assuming it's just a normal failure," said Scot Brooks, deputy director of Moore County Public Safety.

Flash flood warnings were issued for nearby portions of Moore and Lee counties because officials feared the dam would fail altogether. Forest land south and east of the dam was at the highest risk of flooding, but officials said nearby roads could be covered by water as well.

Nearby homes were evacuated as a precaution. Doris Van, who lives a few miles away, came to rescue her friend Mary Burgess.

"I couldn't leave this girl by herself," Van said. "I got up and rushed down here in case water actually did flood her home. She wouldn't have a way out."

By early afternoon, the lake level had dropped enough that the amount of water flowing through the breach in the dam began to slow, and the flood warnings were canceled.

Brooks and other emergency management officials continued to monitor the situation, however, because erosion under the dam put a dirt road across the dam at risk. Officials blocked off the road to prevent vehicles from using it.

Fixing the ruptured pipe and returning the lake to normal is up to the Carolina Lake homeowners association.

"I used to live on a lakefront. Now, it's swamp front. I think it'll go downhill from here," resident Krystal Knight said.

"I don't think, as a community, we can rebuild," resident Charles Sutton said. "I don't think we can do anything. We used to have a big community meetings and stuff, but we don't do that much anymore. So, I'm not sure we can all get together and do anything.

"I know we're going to try. We're not going to give up on our lake," Sutton said.