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Thursday, May 23 2013 7:34 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:34:54 GMT
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PIKE COUNTY, MS (WAFB) -
Tangipahoa Parish called for a
mandatory evacuation of all areas along the Tangipahoa River, including the
town of Kentwood, after officials were notified a dam in southern Mississippi
is damaged but has not failed.
Officials said Mississippi Emergency
Management notified GOHSEP and Tangipahoa Parish Government about the concern
at Lake Tangipahoa at Percy Quinn State Park.
Pike County Civil Defense said the
dam is still holding but there is concern it could give way. Louisiana Governor
Bobby Jindal and Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess went on a
helicopter flyover and called for an immediate evacuation of the town of
Kentwood at 1:45 p.m. Thursday.
Out of caution, Tangipahoa Parish
President Gordon Burgess issued the mandatory evacuation order for all
residents along the Tangipahoa River. About 60,000 people from Percy Quin to
Kentwood are being asked leave.
The Mississippi Department of
Environmental Quality said the dam will not be breached. Instead, workers will
dig out part of the bank to relieve water pressure.
The release is not expected to
significantly increase water levels downstream, although evacuations were
ordered at 10:10 a.m. CT for residents along the river in Mississippi and Louisiana.
At the time, the dam appeared
heavily damaged, but it was unclear whether the onslaught of rain brought by
Isaac would be too much for it. According to WWL, McComb, MS, Mayor
Whitney Rawlings said there was a 50/50 chance the dam would fail on its
Residents had 90 minutes to
WAFB reported the National
Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for parts of Pike County in
southern Mississippi. A National Guard helicopter had been maintaining position
over the dam, according to CNN.
Evacuations have been ongoing, and
Jindal agreed to send buses to help move people out of the areas of potential
If residents in Osyka were flooded
by the 1997 or 2002 floods, they need to evacuate immediately. If residents in
Kentwood were flooded by the 1990 or 1983 floods, they need to evacuate
Shelter locations are as follows:
Hammond West Side Elementary Montessori School
Hammond Jr. High Magnet School
Natalbany Elementary School
Nesom Middle School
Amite High School
Kentwood High Magnet School
Residents should call 211 for the
latest sheltering and evacuation information.
According to WLBT in Jackson, MS,
Pike County Emergency Manager Richard Coghlan said there is no seepage, the
spillways are working, levees have not been overtopped and crews are lowering
the level of Lake Tangipahoa.
He said two portions of the backside
of the dam received significant damage from the rains, but that no water is
If the dam does fail, the crest
forecast would rise to 21.5 feet. That would break the record crest of 18.7
The National Weather Service issued
a flash flood warning for southwestern Pike County in southern Mississippi
after the emergency management officials determined the dam would probably
Forecasters expect severe flooding
downstream along the Tangipahoa River from west of the McComb Airport and
Magnolia to Osyka.
The water level is expected to rise
nearly eight feet below the dam to six feet at Osyka. The river stage at Osyka
is currently 14.8 feet.
The weather service said this is a
flash flood emergency for all low-lying areas along the Tangipahoa River,