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Lake Tahoma Dam Deemed Safe, Mandatory Evacuations Canceled

Officials in McDowell County have canceled a mandatory evacuation order following a landslide near the Lake Tahoma dam Wednesday morning.

MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. – Officials in McDowell County announced that the Lake Tahoma dam has been deemed safe following an inspection by engineers, canceling the mandatory evacuation order for thousands of residents living south of the dam.

Early Wednesday morning, the evacuation order was given following a landslide near the dam from the remnants of Alberto moving through the region.

McDowell County Emergency Management issued the following statement just after 10 a.m.:

The emergency at Lake Tahoma has been canceled. The evacuation order is no longer in effect. The engineer has performed a safety inspection and determined that the evacuation order is no longer needed.

Please remain alert for additional updates, as additional rainfall is expected this afternoon. We appreciate the public's understanding during this storm.

Once again the mandatory evacuation order for all residents below Lake Tahoma has been canceled.

According to McDowell County Emergency Management, an engineer at the dam recommended a “Level 1 Emergency” around 1 a.m. McDowell County authorities issued the evacuation order saying the dam was in “imminent failure.”

Emergency Management officials said 100 to 200 were under the evacuation.

The National Weather Service stated that a flash flood emergency was in place for McDowell County, including the cities of Marion and Old Fort. All residents below the dam will be required to evacuate the area.

These areas include:

Lake Tahoma Road south to U.S. 70 West

Tom Johnson Camping Center

Toms Creek Road from NC 80 to Morgan Lake Road

Old Greenlee Road from Crane Resistoflex Road to the water filter plant

U.S. 70 West from PG Fire Department to North Main Street

All residences along the Catawba River from the Tom Johnson Camping Center to Lake James and any developments that border the river in Hankins

All locations along U.S. 221 Business

Burnettes Landing

Lake James Landing

Authorities have opened three shelters for residents forced to evacuate their homes. They are at the YMCA of Marion, Glenwood Baptist Church and Old Fort Baptist Church. You can call 828-652-3241 for more information on shelters.

McDowell County Schools are closed Wednesday. Buncombe County Schools closed the Owen District around 8 a.m. Other schools in Buncombe County, as well as Henderson County Schools, were on a two-hour delay because of flooding and debris on the roads.

According to the National Weather Service, floodwaters have reached levels not seen since the floods of September 2004 following Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. The NWS issued a Flood Warning for McDowell, Rutherford, Caldwell and Burke counties until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

RELATED: Mudslide shuts down I-40 in both directions in McDowell County

RELATED: Alberto's Impact On NC Mountains: What We Know Now

A mudslide Tuesday night shut down two westbound lanes of I-40 and one lane of eastbound traffic near Exit 66.

In Catawba County, emergency workers remain concerned about low-lying bridges being susceptible to flash flooding.

Catawba County Emergency Management Coordinator Karyn Yaussy warned flooded bridges are dangerous for drivers.

"If you can't see the painted lines on the road, then it's too deep for you to drive through it," Yaussy said. "It only takes a few inches of water to knock a full-size man over and it takes about 12-18 inches to move a vehicle even a big truck."

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