The breaking of three Columbia area dams — including the Overcreek Bridge dam around 3 p.m. Monday — had officials going house-to-house Monday afternoon urging people to get out of their houses immediately and seek higher ground.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Curtis Wilson said evacuations downstream from the breached Overcreek Bridge dam are mandatory. Wilson said the Forest Acres Police Department are evacuating residents and they would be taken to emergency shelters nearby.
“We are now worried about the Forest Lake dam breaking,” said State Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, who was directing traffic Monday afternoon at Lake Shore Drive and Forest Drive.
Downstream from the Forest Lake dam is the 157-acre Lake Katharine, which is already near, or at, full levels.
Lourie said Richland County sheriff’s deputies, Forest Acres and Columbia police are urging evacuations in the neighborhoods of East Shore, Lake Shore, West Shore and the Lake Katharine neighborhoods.
Hundreds of people live in those areas.
All the dams are part of a 70-mile network of dams, lakes and streams called the Gills Creek watershed, which eventually empties into the Congaree River.
Video: Old Mill Pond dam breach
Main Street, Lexington, below the ruptured Old Mill Pond in Lexington, reopened to traffic Monday.
Debris was removed and engineers decided that the pavement underneath was safe for travel, town Mayor Steve McDougall said.
Further analysis showed that it was the ground on the side of the earthen dam that gave way, he said.
Next the adjoining Old Mill shopping center will be inspected to see whether it can be reopened, he said.
Plans call for the eventual restoration of the 25-acre pond, but it’s too soon to say when that will happen, he said.
Carolina Aerial Imaging, a Lexington County company, took pictures of the pond after the rupture early Sunday.
Above: Video from Carolina Aerial Imaging