May 30, 2018 8:50 am
Updated: May 31, 2018 4:06 pm

North Carolina’s Lake Tahoma dam in danger of ‘imminent failure’ after heavy rain triggers landslides

ABOVE: Residents prepare for long recovery in North Carolina flooding.


MARION, N.C. – Mudslides triggered by the soggy remnants of Alberto forced evacuations below a dam early Wednesday and closed a highway in western North Carolina as the centre of the storm lashed the nation’s midsection hundreds of kilometres away.

About 2,000 people were evacuated after emergency managers said the Lake Tahoma dam was in danger of “imminent failure.” Heavy rain triggered landslides at the dam and along Interstate 40, which was closed near Asheville.

READ MORE: Subtropical storm Alberto downgraded to ‘dangerous depression’ as Gulf Coast braces for flood

Just before dawn, McDowell County Emergency Management deputy director Adrienne Jones told The Associated Press the dam hadn’t failed, but an engineer was concerned enough after an inspection to order the evacuation until the dam could be examined in daylight.

Several schools were closed in western North Carolina because of flooding.

WATCH: People return home after evacuations due to flooding in North Carolina

The centre of a depression that had been Alberto was about 640 kilometres west near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where Sherry Key had a fitful night of sleep because of high winds and heavy rains.

READ MORE: Incredible images show historic Ellicott City ravaged by floodwaters

“I have dogs and they’re terribly afraid of storms, so they were on top on top me all night,” said Key, an airport office manager.

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Radar showed rain extended as far south as the Gulf Coast, where the storm came ashore at the Florida Panhandle on Monday, to the Great Lakes region.

Forecasters warned the leftovers of the Atlantic hurricane season’s first named storm were still capable of causing treacherous flooding as heavy precipitation spreads deeper into the nation’s midsection. Flash flood watches and warnings were in effect for parts of several states from Alabama through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, the Carolinas and Virginia and West Virginia.

The weather service at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport in South Carolina said the rainfall of 4.4 centimetres on Tuesday broke a record dating to 1976.

WATCH: North Carolina flooding coverage

In the mountains of western North Carolina, Jones said about 200 residents were in three shelters, set up in Marion, Old Fort and Glenwood. She said five minor injuries have been reported during water rescues as creeks and streams overflowed their banks and rock slides closed roads.

The big, messy storm caused more than 25,000 power outages in Alabama, many of which were caused by trees rooted in soggy soil falling across utility lines.

READ MORE: Body of national guardsman washed away by floods in Maryland found

“We’ve had a lot of rain, but we got lucky. It was a constant rain but not a heavy rain,” said Regina Myers, emergency management director in Walker County northwest of Birmingham.

Alberto was more of a rainstorm than a wind threat, but the National Weather Service said at least one tornado had been confirmed.

WATCH: ‘Once in a 1,000 years’: Maryland community hit with major flash flood

The weather service said its meteorologists confirmed a weak tornado with maximum winds of 147 kph hit an area around Cameron, South Carolina, on Monday afternoon. No one was hurt.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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