Water is now overflowing from the lake.
Lynchburg has been hammered by heavy rain over the past few days, which has raised water levels inside the dam.
Local fire and police sent boats to rescue people to area shelters, including E.C.Glass High School and Sandusky Middle School.
As a result, the weather service issued a flash flood warning because of the potential breach until 3:15 a.m. for the Central City of Lynchburg.
Officials say people who were evacuated may not be able to return to their homes for at least 24 hours, WDBJ reports. They will remain there "until our weather event has passed and our dam is stabilized", she says.
A failure of the College Lake Dam near Lynchburg could flood the city with five metres of water in seven minutes, news outlets reported Thursday evening, citing statements from the National Weather Service (NSW).
The dam was built in the early '30s and, like many dams in the US, doesn't meet current safety standards. If you are in low lying areas below the College Lake Dam, you should move to higher ground immediately.
The city of Lynchburg is the closest settlement downstream of the structure.
Four to six inches of rain were said to have fallen overnight.
The collapse of the dam would cause significant damage to homes and businesses.
Overnight, city officials monitored the dam for structural weaknesses.
Given the condition of the dam and the state of the lake, Perrow says, the most likely "fix" isn't actually a repair - he says the city is likely to tear the dam down completely and replace it with a bridge.
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