A water dam specialist with the state Division of Water is scheduled to inspect an old silt pond on Company Branch at Craft’s Colly this week after county officials declared a state of emergency over fears the dam might collapse.
An overflow culvert located near the center of the dam, estimated to hold six-million gallons of water, stopped up on June 19 and caused water to erode the dam.
“Had we gotten the amount of rain like we did at Neon it could have broken loose,” said Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward.
Letcher County Director of Emergency Management Paul Miles said members of the Pine Mountain Search and Rescue went door to door Friday evening explaining potential dangers if the dam broke. Miles said he also activated the county’s one-call system to notify about 200 residents in Craft’s Colly after Ward issued a voluntary evacuation order and said residents could go to the Ermine Senior Citizens Center.
Ward said county employees worked all through Friday night digging a spillway to let water come out the side of the dam.
Ward said workers removed a foot of dirt at a time to gradually lower the water level.
“We tried to get the water down below where it breached, taking away the damage,” said Ward. “We worked all night on it to make sure everything was alright. It appears to be stable now.”
Ward said the landowner, J. Mark Adams of Ashland, has been told to address the situation.
Ward is waiting for the dam specialist to say what further actions need to be taken by the state and county.
“We are monitoring it about three times a day now,” said Ward. “We are waiting for the Division of Water to let us know what else to do.”