Crews continue to monitor lake levels; residents worry Lake Tara Dam might break

OXFORD, Miss. — Oxford neighbors who were told to evacuate in case of a dam break were back at home safe Wednesday night.

Now, state environmental crews will work to lower water levels over the next few days as rain continues to hit the area.

Chief of Environmental Quality William McKercher said the Lake Tara Dam experienced a piping failure.

Because of this, people were told to evacuate as fire crews tried to drain the lake.

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“I’m worried about the sewage system, and I’m worried about the house down here,” said Vince Vinson.

Vinson lives off Gum Tree Drive. On Wednesday afternoon, his neighborhood evacuated after concerns the Tara Dam might break.

Vinson was working when he saw the alert on his phone.

“All of these houses down through here, especially on the lower side of their dam back there, there are some houses straight in front of the dam,” said Vinson.

Fire crews responded quickly, using hoses to drain the Lake Tara Dam.

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McKercher said the pipe carries water through the dam and controls water levels, but a hole ended up opening around the pipe because of all this rain.

“We are going to get the water level down to a safe, manageable level to ensure we don’t have any potential for a breach or failure of the dam,” said McKercher.

Since more rain is expected, state crews will stick around to fix the dam’s pipe and monitor lake levels over the next few days.

Still, neighbors nearby are worried about what could happen if the dam breaks.

“I’ve seen heavy rain and seen water come down this ditch before, but like I said, I’m sure that’s where they are pumping that out,” said Vinson.