PIPERS GAP — Voluntary evacuations have been called off in the Pipers Gap area of Carroll County.
The evacuations, which began at approximately 3:30 p.m. Thursday, were cancelled at 2:20 p.m. Friday. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies are anticipating the arrival of an engineer to make a determination on further action to take on erosion of a dam which forced them to evacuate residents along a portion of Pipers Gap Road.
Carroll County Emergency Services Coordinator Everette Lineberry confirmed work done to remove water and relieve pressure on the dam has been successful. He said much work remains but it has been determined the emergency has passed and all roads are open and people are being allowed back in their homes.
Crews are still monitoring the scene. Carroll County Sheriff J.B. Gardner said on Thursday a Safety Regional Engineer was at the scene at an address in the 2100 block of Pipers Gap Road where a dam above a private pond haf cracked. At that time, Gardner reported there had been a lot of erosion with the dam breaking. He said while a break may not have resulted in a tremendous amount of water for a long time, it could easily be a 10-foot wave of water following Pipers Gap toward Galax and Chestnut Creek.
Before 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, Gardner said the landowner had crews on site which cut two drainage ditches to help channel the water being pumped out of the pond. He said even though a lot of water has been pumped out of the pond, there is a lot remaining. Currently two, 600-gallon a minute water pumps are being used to drain water the pond. (These pumps were in use throughout the night as well.) Gardner said some people have been allowed back into their homes as the voluntary evacuation continues with officials keeping watch.
On Thursday, 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.”
Thursday’s 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 was open as an evacuation shelter for those in the affected area.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN