GALAX, Va. — The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies are working to evacuate a portion of Pipers Gap Road as a dam break appears imminent.
Carroll County Sheriff J.B. Gardner said a Safety Regional Engineer is on the scene at an address in the 2100 block of Pipers Gap Road (between Pipers Gap and Galax) where a dam above a private pond appears to be cracking.
“There is a lot of erosion. It is breaking. The engineer is trying to help us get people from Pipers Gap Road from the 2100 block to Galax evacuated,” Gardner said. “It may not be a tremendous amount of water for a long time, but when it breaks he said it could easily be a 10-foot wave of water. Then it would follow Pipers Gap toward Galax and Chestnut Creek. They are evacuating some houses as a safety precaution. The engineer said it could be five minutes to five hours before it breaks. We can’t really put a time on it.”
As of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Gardner said the engineer was still on site and an excavator was being brought in to dig around the good side of the dam to try to divert the water and drain the pond. Earlier today, Pipers Gap Road was closed from Highway 89 to Whitney Lane until further notice. Travelers were told to use an alternate route.
The National Weather Service also issued a flash flood warning for the potential dam break in Southwestern Carroll County, the City of Galax, and Southeastern Grayson County on Thursday to be in effect until 9:30 p.m. The alert stated that at 3:31 p.m. local emergency management reported the imminent failure of an unnamed dam just north of Pipers Gap Road in Southwest Carroll County.
“The dam has not undergone a complete failure yet but is considered to be in imminent danger. Flood waters from a failure would move down the stream below the dam and will reach Wards Mill Branch and then flow into Chestnut Creek,” the alert stated.
“If the dam were to fail, the water depth just below the dam could be up to about 15 feet or more deep but would attenuate in depth downstream. As the water enters Wards Mill Branch and then Chestnut Creek, flood depths would be considerably lower but exactly how much is unknown at this time.”
The alert also instructed people in the area to “move to higher ground now.” A school outreach message from the Carroll County School System was issued Thursday also, notifying parents that Oakland Elementary School is open as an evacuation shelter for those in the affected area.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN