Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding across the WDBJ7 viewing area.

The New River Valley was especially hard hit.

Evacuations have been ordered in parts of Pulaski County, and Wythe County officials are warning of a potential dam failure that would affect the areas of Ivanhoe and Austinville.


According to Appalachian Power and the National Weather Service, the threat of a dam failure at the Byllesby/Buck hydroelectric dam on the New River has been downgraded.

Officials in Wythe County warned residents of a potential dam failure earlier Thursday.

Here is the statement from Appalachian Power:

Water conditions have improved throughout the day on many of the rivers on which Appalachian Power operates hydroelectric facilities in Virginia. An earlier potential dam failure emergency condition has been lifted. 

·  Around 2:30 p.m. Appalachian downgraded the emergency conditions on a portion of the New River to a non-failure emergency condition. Earlier today the company notified emergency officials in proximity to the company's Byllesby and Buck hydroelectric facilities near Ivanhoe that there was a potential failure situation. That situation has been removed.  Flashboards, oak boards atop the dam structure designed to give way, had to be manually removed. With the flashboards in place, water pressure was building up to potentially unsafe levels behind the dams. After their removal engineers inspected the dams and determined that the structures were stable.

· At Claytor Dam on the New River the company inflows have decreased and spillway gates are able to be closed. The water released from the project has been cut from 72,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) to 68,000 cfs. The water level behind the dam has decreased from 1848.4 to 1846.5. Normal full-pond elevation is 1846. Downstream water levels should continue to subside. Residents in this area should watch the Radford USGS for current information.

·  Some tributaries feeding the Smith Mountain Project  have crested, while the Pigg River flows continues to climb. The current water level at Smith Mountain Dam is about 795 feet above sea level. The company does not anticipate the elevation exceeding 795.5 at this time.

·  At Altavista, downstream of Leesville Dam, flood conditions have improved slightly. The company is holding water in Leesville, and will release inflows in a manner that does not increase downstream flooding conditions.

·   At Reusens Dam on the James River near Lynchburg flows continue to increase and are now at approximately 43,500. Flows are expected to increase throughout the night. The company is releasing inflows through the spillway gates and will monitor conditions closely.


5 p.m. update from Pulaski County Emergency Management: The flood waters from the New River have crested and are now beginning to recede.  However, the evacuation notice stands as it is still dangerous to return to these areas which may be under water and impassable by vehicles.  Many roads will also become dangerous this evening as temperatures drop causing slick, icy areas and debris from the flooded roads will remain. Citizens are asked to call 994-2602 between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm for non-emergency information and to report property damage.  Callers can leave a message after hours and the call will be returned.

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UPDATE 11:40 a.m.: An emergency shelter has been opened at Pulaski High School. Click here for more details about the shelter.

This is the news release from Pulaski County officials about a mandatory evacuation:

Due to the high flood waters Pulaski County has declared a state of local emergency. Based on the