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Massachusetts dam threatens to flood town
I hope the DAM holds


Massachusetts dam threatens to flood town
Governor: 'All we can do is wait and keep our fingers crossed'

TAUNTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Authorities in Massachusetts evacuated thousands of residents as a wooden dam was failing, threatening to send up to 6 feet of water into the center of the southeastern town of Taunton.

A second dam up the Mill River also could be threatened if the structure, known as the Dam at Whittenton Mills, fails, Gov. Mitt Romney said.

Torrential rain last week and overnight have swollen the river and deteriorated the 12-foot Dam at Whittenton Mills, said Mayor Robert Nunes, threatening the town of 56,000, about 30 miles south of Boston. (Watch town residents brace for flooding as dam deteriorates -- 1:24)

About 100 homes are downstream from the dam, a spokesman for the state's emergency management agency told Reuters.

Lisa Campbell, who lives near the river, told The Associated Press that she and her children planned to stay at her sister's house on the other side of town.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," she told the AP. "You saw how many people had to be rescued from New Orleans when they didn't leave."

The mayor said that the dam "changed" at about 2 a.m. ET Tuesday.

"There is additional deterioration to the dam," Nunes said. "As I speak, the dam is deteriorating."

Nunes declared a state of emergency Monday evening.

About 2,000 people in low-lying areas and in the downtown area have been evacuated, including a housing development for the elderly, authorities said.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for imminent dam failure until 10:30 a.m. ET Tuesday. An 8-foot flood wave was possible if the dam breaks, it said.

By midday Monday, the dam's railing was dipping, and some of its pilings were beginning to show signs of failure, officials said.

At a news conference Monday, Romney gave an ominous assessment, saying 6 feet of water could come "roaring" through downtown.

"The dam looks like it is going to imminently burst," said Romney, who is monitoring the situation with other emergency officials in Taunton. "At this stage, all we can do is wait and keep our fingers crossed."

If the Whittenton dam goes, then the second dam -- the Morey's Bridge Dam about a half-mile away -- might burst, sending as much as 12 feet of water through the area, Romney said.

"The dam upstream might go, and that could be even more dangerous to the community and to the property," he said.

The governor told AP that the dam was inspected two years ago and it was considered in fair condition.

CNN's Chad Myers contributed to this report.

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/10/18/massachusetts.dam
 

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The only funny thing about this story was the fox 25 images this a.m. of two or three "officials" standing on the dam. Not a good place to be if it let's go!
:-k
 

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State Of Emergency Remains In Effect In Tauton

Homes Downstream Of Dam Evacuated

UPDATE: The mayor of Taunton says there's no change in the situation at the Whittenton Dam and promises an update on the situation this morning. Taunton schools will be closed Wednesday

POSTED: 4:40 pm EDT October 17, 2005
UPDATED: 5:58 am EDT October 19, 2005

TAUNTON, Mass. -- A state of emergency remains in effect Tuesday in Taunton where emergency management officials were monitoring the Whittenton Dam.

The wooden structure has been in danger of breaching and flooding a large portion of the city.

Mayor Robert Nunes said that of late Tuesday, the condition of the dam is stable, with no structural changes since early Tuesday morning.

Taunton Fire Chief Joseph Rose said water levels have stabilized.

A flash flood warning issued by the National Weather Service is in effect until tomorrow Wednesday morning.

Officials said it's too early to know when evacuated residents will be able to return home. The mayor describes the dam-watch as a minute-by-minute situation.

Schools will remain closed in Taunton on Wednesday.

Sen. John Kerry, Edward Kennedy and Rep. Barney Frank will meet in Taunton Wednesday for a first-hand look at the dam.

"Things remain the same. There are no new problems," Nunes told City Council in a briefing at 9:30 p.m.

Nunes said dam engineers and officials from the city police and fire departments would continue to monitor the dam overnight into Wednesday morning.

The structure has been in danger of breaching and flooding a large portion of the city since Monday. A flash flood warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect until Wednesday morning.

Nunes said a state of emergency remains in effect in Taunton.

Residents downstream from the dam were "strongly encouraged" to evacuate their homes. More than 2,000 people have left the area. Nunes said police and firefighters were going door to door Tuesday afternoon to determine if anyone remains.

If the dam were to breach, the mayor said it could send a 6-foot wave of water flowing down the Mill River into downtown Taunton. Businesses in the downtown district were shut Tuesday and traffic was blocked off. Taunton schools, government offices and courts were closed.

Gov. Mitt Romney said he has his "fingers crossed" that the dam will hold. He has also ordered the emergency inspection of more than 180 dams across the state that have been deemed "high hazard dams." (Read related story.)

Nunes said 21 National Guard members with heavy equipment have arrived in Taunton and are ready if needed. U.S. Sen. John Kerry said it's critical that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies be in place if the dam fails.

Nunes said 63 evacuees are staying at the field house at Taunton High School, which the Red Cross is staffing. He said the evacuees are in "good spirits" and food is being provided for them.

Nunes comforted the evacuees Tuesday.

"You don't know. The worst is not knowing," said Joan Medeiros, who was staying at the shelter with her six children.

Karen Westcott came with her two children. Westcott said she was on a treadmill when a fire truck arrived on her street and blared its sirens for people to leave. She said it "feels like a dream."

Another evacuee, Sheila Bergeron, is at the high school with her father and 9-year-old daughter, waiting to find out if the Whittenton Dam will break and what will happen to their homes as it does.

Bergeron lives along the Taunton River, about 2.5 miles downstream from the deteriorating dam. Her father, Peter Bergeron, said he doesn't blame his predicament on city leaders or the people who own and manage the dam.

The century-old Whittenton Dam is privately owned, but Nunes said the owners have been cooperating with local authorities. The dam was last inspected two years ago and considered to be in fair condition.

Taunton was last flooded in March 1968 when the dam was breached. City Councilor Charles Crowley, a local historian, said there was also catastrophic flooding in February 1886 following several days of rain.

The dam was built to provide water power for a former textile mill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yep here is the latest Mayor: Dam emergency continues, but "we are winning."
TAUNTON (AP) -- Taunton Mayor Robert Nunes says the city is still in a state of emergency, but the Whittenton Pond Dam remains stable and waters appear to be receding.

While there is still cause for concern, the mayor told reporters this morning: "We are winning."

Businesses in the downtown area along with all government offices and state courts have been ordered closed for a second day, as have public schools. About two-thousand residents remain evacuated from their homes.

Nunes says the city is erring on the side of caution.

Engineer Matthew Belisle says water levels behind the dam dropped about three more inches overnight. But he says the levels are still several feet above normal.

Belisle also indicated less concern today about "vibrations" in the 173-year-old structure, saying that wooden dams normally vibrate to release stress.

Governor Romney, Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Congressman Barney Frank will be in Taunton later this morning for a briefing and tour of the site.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

http://www2.whdh.com/news/articles/local/BOS7460/
 

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State Of Emergency Extended As Officials Eye Dam

Officials Turn To Katrina Fund For Help

Jamy Pombo, Senior News Editor

POSTED: 11:59 am EDT October 19, 2005
UPDATED: 2:25 pm EDT October 19, 2005

BOSTON -- The state of emergency will remain in effect in Taunton until next week, and local officials will petition the state for access to the unused portion of the Hurricane Katrina Aid Fund, officials said Wednesday as they continued to monitor the deteriorating Whittenton Pond Dam.

"The city of Taunton is still in a state of emergency and will remain in effect until early next week. We just received a briefing from the National Weather Service. The good news is dry weather until Saturday. The bad news, significant rain on Sunday," Taunton Mayor Robert Nunes said.

With a weekend of rains predicted, and the dam in danger of giving way, officials started to address the potential flooding situation and how the city would finance the disaster relief effort.

"It is imperative that we put in place a funding mechanism so that cities and towns will be assured that there is no net loss to their regular operational budget," Rep. Marc Pacheco said at an early-afternoon news conference.

The legislation would allow the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to access unused portions of the Katrina Aid Fund. The push for federal funds came hours after Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry toured the dam site.

"The impact of rains on Massachusetts ... we don't have a river that isn't at almost flood stage, and over these past period of days, we've seen many communities that have been threatened," Kennedy said. "This is a unique set of circumstances."

Kennedy said many blue-collar workers and people on fixed incomes have been affected by the flooding and the state's congressional delegation wants to assist in getting help for them.

People who don't have flood insurance, he said, can benefit if federal disaster funds are approved for the state. A request has been sent to the White House, he said.

"You can imagine what the situation is ... and we can understand the fear and anxiety that the people of this community are feeling," Kennedy added.

"There's no way you could stand at that dam and touch it, and feel the force of water behind it, and look at that mass of water falling over it, and not feel that imminence of danger behind it," Kerry said. "The risk still remains. Regrettably there are not a lot of options about what you can do about it, so people have to remain patient."

"We're really left in a position where we have to pray and hope that the situation will not worsen," Kerry said, adding that he had noticed many of the businesses closed in the community.

All government offices, courts and businesses in the downtown area will also stay closed, although the dam situation was said to be stable and Mill River water levels had receded about 3 inches. The shelter at Taunton High School will also remain open.

The Whittenton Pond Dam dates back to the 1800s. It has failed before. In March 1968, the dam was breached and the city flooded.

Evacuees Watch Dam's Stability From Emergency Shelter

Dozens of evacuees listened to Wednesday's update about the stability of the dam, wondering when they'd be allowed to return to their homes.

"This could be a long time. It could be several days. It could be longer than that, but we are used to that and it's OK," American Red Cross worker Carol Yelverton said.

About 90 evacuees registered to spend the night Tuesday at the emergency center, but only 55 showed up.

"I've been here since Monday night, about 9 p.m. It's better to be safe here than at the home. I live right around the corner from the dam," evacuee Kevin Strong said.

"I worry about my house. My family is here with me, but my family is more important than my house. I can't replace my family. I can replace my house," evacuee Debbie Houston said.

Charil Hawkesworth moved into a new apartment in Taunton Saturday, but two days later, she found herself in the evacuation center.

"I don't like the idea (of being here.) I am ready to go back home, but you have to do what you have to do. I'd rather be here and safe," she said.
 

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Huge Pumps To Relieve Dam Pressure

State Of Emergency Remains In Effect

POSTED: 6:53 am EDT October 20, 2005
UPDATED: 10:19 am EDT October 20, 2005

TAUNTON, Mass. -- There is relief in sight for Taunton, in a state of emergency since Tuesday, as a 173-year-old dam threatens to burst and flood the city.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that five high-volume pumps have been sent to the city to draw water out of the Mill River upstream of the Whittenton Pond Dam, to relieve pressure on the aging timber dam. Pumping should begin at about noon Thursday, officials said.

"The intent is to set the pumps up upstream of the dam. We'll pump around the brick buildings next to the dam and we'll discharge downstream," pumping project manager Dick Pillotte said.

The goal is to remove 10 percent of the river's water flow so that deteriorated timbers from the Whittenton Pond Dam can be removed and the structure repaired. Wooden stanchions connected to the base of the dam are nearly rotted out. Officials also want to create more capacity for water in the Mill River, which flows out of Sabbatia Lake, because forecasters say Hurricane Wilma could bring more rain to the region next weekend.

"This is a staged effort. We're not going to just stick these pumps in the water and start 30,000 gallons down the river. We're going to incrementally institute this pumping operation," Taunton Fire Chief Joe Rose said.

Meanwhile, 2,000 people remain evacuated, schools and downtown businesses will be closed for another day, and people who live downriver of the dam are nervous. The city of more than 57,000 is located about 35 miles south of Boston.

"If they're just taking pressure off the dam, that's what they say, but we don't know how much water's going to be into our backyards or into our basements," evacuee Theresa Sabina said.

President George W. Bush issued an emergency declaration for Bristol County, which will provide 75 percent reimbursement for the cost of flood prevention. The pumping operation alone will cost thousands of dollars. More than 32,000 gallons of water are being pumped upriver of the dam every minute.
 
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