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Flooding weakens dam and threatens national park in Utah

Bryan Alaspa's picture

Authorities have evacuated over 300 residents who live downstream of a swollen river that is threatening to cause a local dam to give way in Utah.

The residents who were evacuated were from the towns of Rockville and Springdale which both sit on the Virgin River. Not far away is a dam that helps hold back the waters of that river and recent rains have caused the water held back by that dam to swell. There is also, according to emergency officials, a “risk of imminent failure.”

Also, authorities closed Zion National Park. There the levels of the nearby river are rising so rapidly that emergency officials are almost certain flooding is likely. Two bridges from waters moving rapidly due to flooding have been wiped out near the town of Gunlock.

Guests of the park were evacuated today, but park officials did not release an exact total of the number of people who were removed.

The flooding, some authorities say, could be as bad as a flood that occurred there 20 years ago. That disaster flooded homes and killed numerous amount of livestock.

The city of St. George seems particularly hard hit. The mayor there has declared the entire city a disaster area. A local fire official said that a nearby golf course was experiencing flooding and eroding the course at a rate of two feet a minute.

Reports from the National Weather service said that the rivers would crest either late Tuesday or perhaps Wednesday.

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