Evacuation orders canceled in North Carolina after officials deem Lake Tahoma Dam safe

Heavy rainfall led to a landslide that compromised the Lake Tahoma Dam in western North Carolina early Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for central McDowell County, including the town of Marion.

“This is an extremely dangerous situation,” the warning said. “To save your life, please heed all county evacuation notices and take action to leave the vicinity immediately!”

NC Campground flooding @Z_Lowder14

“Floodwaters have reached levels not seen since the September 2004 floods associated with Hurricanes Frances and Ivan,” the NWS said. “This is the most significant flooding McDowell County has seen since 2004.”

Areas downstream of Lake Tahoma Dam, including residences and businesses along U.S. 70 from Lake Tahoma Road to U.S. 221 Business near Garden Creek, were evacuated Wednesday morning.

The evacuations were initially recommended by the dam’s engineers, according to the McDowell County Emergency Management, who called the event a Class 1 emergency.

Residents are now permitted to return to their homes in McDowell County, but officials urge them to use caution.

The flooding is being blamed for a structure collapse in Marion shortly after 2:00 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

Flash flooding was not restricted to McDowell County as water rescues and road closures were reported throughout western North Carolina on Tuesday night.

The area was hit hard by as much as 4-6 inches of rainfall late Tuesday.

The rain struggled to soak into the ground that has been soaked with above-normal precipitation this month. Asheville, North Carolina, which usually picks up 3.66 inches of rain during May, has received 13.26 inches as of Tuesday, May 29.

If the city eclipses 13.75 inches of rain for the month, May 2018 would mark the wettest month on record. The old record has stood since August 1940.

The area will be at risk for additional flash flooding through the end of the week as rounds of drenching showers and thunderstorms roll through. Drier conditions may return this weekend.

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