MA dam failure possible

Nearly 2,000 Massachusetts residents remained evacuated Wednesday as authorities continued to monitor a dam that they say could still burst at any moment.

BY HEATHER MOYER | TAUNTON, Mass. | October 19, 2005


Nearly 2,000 Massachusetts residents remained evacuated Wednesday as authorities continued to monitor a dam that they say could still burst at any moment.

While engineers said the pressure on the Mill River's Whittenton Pond Dam has decreased since they first went on alert early Tuesday, the situation is still 'extremely volatile.'

The possible dam burst threatens the city of Taunton, where schools and businesses remained closed for a second day to keep people out of harm's way.

The dam has been significantly weakened by the heavy rains over the past week in New England. From central to southeastern Massachusetts, rainfall totals ranged from two to seven inches on Saturday alone.

Early Tuesday morning engineers noticed more water passing through one section of the dam. Officials say if the dam fails, a wall of water up to six feet high would move through parts of Taunton.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for Bristol County late Monday due to the possible dam failure.

The dam is privately owned and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said it was inspected two years ago. The dam received a 'fair' rating then.

National Guard troops are now in the area assisting with evacuations. A shelter is open at the local high school. Taunton Mayor Robert Nunes said more than 60 people are there now, but he expects that to increase as the day goes on.

Taunton is 30 miles south of Boston.


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