VASS, NC (WTVD) —
While Woodlake Dam has been stabilized, Governor Pat McCrory again on Wednesday warned residents below the weakened structure who have been ordered to evacuate to leave.
“We’ve had too many deaths. Get out!” he said. “Once that water flows it’s too late.”
WATCH: GOVERNOR TELLS RESIDENTS TO EVACUATE
State dam inspectors and Moore County officials announced a leak in the eastern Moore County dam that holds back Lake Surf late Monday night.
Pictures from Chopper 11 show how the concrete at the bottom center of the spillway has crumbled under the immense amount of water flowing over it thanks to Hurricane Matthew.
WATCH: CHOPPER 11 OVER THE LAKE
The news prompted the Town of Spring Lake and Moore County to issue an immediate, mandatory evacuation order to residents and businesses along the Lower Little River, which is downstream from Woodlake.
Later Tuesday, Spring Lake officials said they were lifting the evacuation because of the improving situation. But at a 3 p.m. news conference Tuesday, Moore County officials said were keeping the mandatory evacuation in place there.
WATCH: MOORE COUNTY OFFICIALS HOLD NEWS CONFERENCE
Spring Lake is further downstream.
More than 30 members of the National Guard put sandbags in front of floodgates, in attempt to stabilize the dam. That has diverted water away from the damaged section on the spillway.
Although residents are frustrated by the evacuation orders, county managers say it is important to heed the warning.
“We are going to stay on this side of the mandatory evacuations until engineers tell us it is safe to go back home. We are sorry for the inconvenience, I hate it, but the important thing to do is just to keep things in place until we have experts in dam safety tell us it is safe to go back home,” said Nick Picerno, Chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners.
Moore County officials tell us at last count there were 78 residents that refused to leave their homes, and only 28 are in shelters.
Picerno warns that if the sandbags fail, lives may be in danger.
“You’ve got to remember you have millions of gallons of water sitting beside me and concrete slowly chipping away. Would you want me to leave your kids in that zone? I think not,” Picerno explained.
Emergency officials from surrounding communities have all chipped in to try to save this community. Picerno said he considers them true heroes.
“I want you to understand they are on a dam that if that thing broke they are gone,” he said. “There is no rescuing them probably because you’ve got millions of gallons of water that’s going to take them away. They are risking their life to get this thing done. To me those are superheroes.”
Picerno would not comment as to when residents will be allowed back into their homes. They also do not have a timeframe on when the hole will be fixed
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WATCH: Joel Brown reports from Moore County
WATCH: Residents downstream of Woodlake Dam told to evacuate
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