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 the National Weather Service:

The latest information received from American Electric Power is that the problems at the Byllesby/Buck hydroelectic dams on the New River have been mitigated to some extent. Therefore the situation there is being improved to a Condition C status. This means that there is not a potential for a dam failure at one or both of the dams, but that an emergency situation continues to exist.

AEP continues to monitor and inspect the dams and is keeping the National Weather Service apprised of developments.

Here is the statement from Appalachian Power:

As of 2:30 p.m. Appalachian has downgraded the emergency conditions on 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.


Officials in Wythe County are warning residents of a potential dam failure.

No evacuation notice has been issued at this time, but officials are warning residents to be on guard.

Here is the news release:

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Wythe County, specifically the areas of Ivanhoe and Austinville. The watch was issued in response to a notification from American Electric Power (AEP) regarding developing problems at the Byllesby/Buck Hydroelectric Dams on the New River.

Residents of Ivanhoe, Austinville and those in low lying areas along the New River are advised to monitor local forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued. The watch will remain in effect through the morning of Friday, February 1, 2013.

The state of the dams is currently a Condition B, which means that there is a potential dam failure at one or both of the dams. An imminent failure is not expected at this time, but the dam operators have been unable to access the dam due to flooding in the area.

The New River is already in flood conditions due to the extremely heavy rains from January 30. A failure of either of these dams would increase flows on the New River but how much is uncertain at this time.

Wythe County is working to ensure the safety of the residents of these communities and the eastern portion of the County by taking necessary precautions. More information will be relayed to residents as it is made available to County Administration.