Lynchburg, Virginia, is under emergency evacuation and a flash flood warning was issued in the area Thursday due to the possible failure of College Lake Dam.

An evacuation center was set up at E.C. Glass High School auditorium where pets are also allowed. According to reports, if the dam fails, Lynchburg, which is the nearest city from the dam, could experience water levels as high as 17 feet within 7 minutes. 

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg said the condition might worsen overnight. “Many roads are closed and the College Lake dam is in danger of failing,” the agency said. “This flooding will continue for the next several hours.”

Heavy rains “has caused College Lake to fill beyond its capacity, and that 12 to 18 inches of water are flowing over Lakeside Drive into Blackwater Creek. At this time, the dam has not failed, and is being closely monitored by emergency personnel for any signs of structural failure,” the weather service said, News Advance reported.

Severe storms caused floods in Lynchburg and surrounding areas Thursday with water as high as the wheel wells of cars. Timberlake and Graves Mill roads were worst affected with some parts receiving three to five inches of rain in three hours.

According to Andrew Loconto, a meteorologist with the weather service, creeks and streams are likely to swell throughout the area. “The storm is producing a good chunk of rain,” he said.

Several roads were closed in Greenwood Drive and Sandusky Drive, trapping several people in Sandusky apartments. Rescue squads were sent on boats by the Lynchburg Fire Department to help the trapped people.

“At first, [the water] started off real low. The force from the water behind the complex caused it to rise even faster,” Madina Johnson, a resident, said. 

“It’s pretty much sickening. I can’t believe that. It’s the worst I’ve seen in all the eight years I’ve lived here,” said Jeff Saunders, another resident of the complex. “I’m just relieved [people who were rescued] are OK." 

Over 700 Appalachian Power customers in and around Lynchburg were without electricity for several hours Thursday. Teresa Hamilton Hall, a spokesperson for the power company, said the outages were due to heavy rain, lightning and wind.

flood Lynchburg, Virginia, is under emergency evacuation due to the possible failure of College Lake Dam. In this image, Louisville residents are forced to use boats and kayaks to get to their homes along the Ohio River after it flooded Louisville, Kentucky, Feb. 25, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/John Sommers II - RC16DB705080/File Photo