Dam at Mississippi lake could fail soon, officials urge precaution, evacuation

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Emergency management officials in one Mississippi county say heavy rains could cause a failure in the dam at Oktibbeha County Lake and they’re urging residents near there to evacuate as a precaution.

Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Agency Director Kristen Campanella said Tuesday the county engineer inspected the dam and reported extremely high water levels in the lake and noted the dam could go at any time.

The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors has issued a warning and activated the emergency action plan, news outlets reported.

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The dam is located between Riviera Road and Walter Bell Road just north of Perkins Drive. Campanella said residents on those roads should evacuate immediately. While the evacuation is not mandatory, Campanella urged residents near the dam to relocate to a safer distance.

Other roads that could be impacted include County Lake Road from Highway 82 to Harrell Road; Walter Bell Road from County Lake Road to Watershed Drive; Perkins Drive; Highway 389 from Wade Road to Sudduth Road; Reed Road from Highway 25 Bypass to County Lake Road; Highway 82 from County lake Road to Highway 25 Bypass; Sun Creek Road form Camp Seminole Road to Highway 389; Highway 50 from John Henry Road to Tribble Road and Water Well Road.

The Oktibbeha County Community Safe Room in Starkville is open to assist residents.

According to the National Weather Service, in the last 24 hours, the Oktibbeha Lake area has received 2.5 to 3.5 inches of rain. Based on radar estimates, they’ve received 2 inches over the last six hours, said meteorologist John Moore.

Moore said the recent flash flood warnings in the area have “exacerbated the situation.”

“They started the year really, really wet and haven’t gotten a break,” Moore said.