Emergency Management Officials Discuss Alerts, Evacuation Plan For Buckeye Lake Dam

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Ohio Emergency Management officials Monday morning discussed the precarious situation with a faulty dam at Buckeye Lake.
    
State and local officials talked about emergency preparedness planning for residents who live near the reservoir about 30 miles east of Columbus.

They say they need to shore up how they alert the more than 3,000 people living near the lake AND move them out quickly in an emergency.
    
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report released last Wednesday said the 180-year-old earthen dam along the north bank of Buckeye Lake is faulty and should be replaced immediately, or the lake drained to prevent a catastrophic failure.
    
Resident Lori Nolin has a business on the Licking County side of Buckeye Lake and a home on the North Bank – just across the Fairfield County line.

The information in the Buckeye Lake report has been overwhelming.

“It's right on the lake, but our business is right across from the spillway - so it could be catastrophic,” said Nolin.

Nolin says she's worried about how fast it could all happen. She’s never heard about the alerts.

Licking County's Code Red system already is equipped to send emergency alerts to all landlines in the area, but those people who depend on cell phones need to sign up.

The county Emergency Management Director says the agency’s top priorities are getting people signed up for Code Red and reviewing the county’s evacuation plans

"You are looking at a lot of people trying to move in a very short period of time, in one or two directions - so the traffic, call it a nightmare, and that also would impact how first responders would come into the area,” said Sean Grady, Licking County EMA Director.

In addition, Grady recommends that people who live and work within the flood zone have a "go bag" pre-packed with clothing, supplies and important papers. 

It is advice that Nolin says she'll consider because this latest report has her anxious.

"Well this one is more drastic than what has been said over the years."

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says it will keep the nearly 5-square-mile lake at lower winter levels until it can fully evaluate the report.

Officials in the meeting on Monday did not discuss the levels of the dam.

But, ODNR's director did say the rain on Friday into Saturday raised the water levels at the lake one foot.

WEB EXTRAS

Buckeye Lake Dam Safety

MAPS - Buckeye Lake Dam Safety

Licking County Emergency Management Agency