Heavy rain is no match for the Bluestone Dam

Summers County
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 Dam failure can be catastrophic.

Luckily our own Bluestone dam is well intact.

Heavy rainfall can cause big problems for river valleys, but not if you have a big enough dam. The Bluestone Dam in Hinton is nearly half a mile long and 165 feet tall.

Resident engineer, Paul Carr, said the dam is built for flood storage, meaning it can handle massive amounts of water.

“We’ve got quite a bit of flood storage,” said Carr. “You won’t hardly see that happen, it could happen, if we had a large like Noah’s Arc flood but the percentage of that is pretty low.”

In the unlikely event that the dam were to fail, at least a 120-foot-high water would rush through the river valley, destroying everything in it’s path. Experts said it would take only eight hours for the water to reach the second floor of the capitol building in Charleston.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, all dams carry a flood risk that has to be managed. The Bluestone dam regulates a Watershed of nearly 4000 square miles, and it reaches all the way down to the mountains of North Carolina.

“We have a lot of storage capacity here,”Carr said. “If you dropped six inches of rain over the whole water shed we’d maybe have concerns.”

Even those concerns still wouldn’t be severe enough for evacuation. However, just because it’s unlikely doesn’t mean dam engineers aren’t prepared. 

“So there is actually a plan with the state and with the crops on how to operate this dam and when to get out information to the public when they might need to evacuate,” said Carr.

Carr said they’ve never had a reason to be concerned, and engineers at Bluestone are confident in the dam’s ability to hold up.

Construction is still being done on the dam to make it even more stable. This work is projected to continue into the 2040s.

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