RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says another dam has failed because of the recent record-setting rainfall. The dam at Lake Elizabeth in Richland County was a small, neighborhood dam, DHEC says. The state is now monitoring 35 dams across the state for possible failure.
There was another reported failure Tuesday morning on Windsor Lake, also in Richland County. Residents of the neighborhood around the lake got weather alerts and were told to evacuate, but the report turned out to be false. It’s possible that someone reported the failure after seeing water flowing over the dam, but that particular dam has a concrete spillway that’s designed to allow water to flow over it when lake levels get too high.
Water from the dam’s spillway goes into Pine Tree Lake, where Ernest Kirby lives. “Our little lake here is about 15 acres, whereas Windsor Lake, on this side of the road, is approximately 120 acres and the water there is probably 16 feet deep in the channel, as opposed to what our little lake is, so if this bridge and lake were to go, we would be in a lot of trouble on both sides of the lake,” he says. “There are 13 homes on the North side of the lake here. Some people have already evacuated. We’re watching it carefully and if time comes, we will move to higher ground.”
Gov. Nikki Haley says even though Tuesday was sunny and floodwaters are receding, overstressed dams are still a big concern. “We’re putting eyes on these dams. We’re not just looking and saying what could happen. We have people on the ground assessing literally as we go. We know which numbers we’re watching and which ones we’re watching. We’ve got vulnerable ones that we’ll be watching today through the next 36 hours,” she says.