80 homes evacuated downstream of Speedwell Forge Lake - abc27 WHTM

Lancaster County

80 homes evacuated downstream of Speedwell Forge Lake

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The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on Monday night advised all residents living downstream of Speedwell Forge Lake Dam in Lancaster County to leave the area immediately.

Randall Gockley, Lancaster County Emergency Management Coordinator, said the evacuation was a precautionary step in case the dam failed.

"We made the decision in conjunction with the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners that we would sooner evacuate the people now at 6 p.m. rather than at 2:00 in the morning when everybody may be sleeping," Gockley said.

About 80 homes in low-lying areas below the dam and along the Hammer Creek and Cocalico Creek in portions of Elizabeth, Warwick, Ephrata and West Earl townships were impacted by the evacuation.

The dam spillway at Speedwell Forge Lake, a 106-acre state-owned lake in Elizabeth Township, heaved and cracked last year as the result of flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and has not been repaired due to a lack of funds.

The lake had been drained, but there was concern the water would rise to a level that would put pressure on the dam.

One of the residents who heeded the evacuation order was Brian Brooks of Brownstown.

"We just moved in. You lose it, you lose it. You don't, then you're lucky, I guess," Brooks said. "We're in the flood plain, so it's going to happen eventually."

Brooks was one of several impacted residents who went to a Red Cross shelter at the Manheim Township Middle School.

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