Rain dumped by hurricane causes at least 17 dams to fail

A swift water rescue team down a street covered by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, N.C., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – At least 17 dams in North Carolina burst from the rain dumped by Hurricane Matthew, most of them in the Cape Fear River Basin.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports state inspectors knew where the rains could cause catastrophic failures. During Matthew, they were “babysitting” critical dams to be able to call for an evacuation if needed.

Dam Safety Program spokeswoman Bridget Munger says none of the 27 deaths in North Carolina attributed to Matthew was caused by a dam failure.

Most of the more than 3,200 dams statewide are earthen and privately owned.

The state’s 62 inspectors must inspect all high-hazard dams at least once every two years. Those are dams whose failures could cause death or costly property damage. Others can go decades without being inspected.


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