Commissioner Bob Willis (right) meets with men to inspect the dam and discuss solutions.
Commissioner Willis Taking Steps to Save Dam and Lake, ACE, October 3, 2008 - Polk County Commissioner, Precinct 1, Bob Willis is taking steps to save a lake that is being threatened by the potential failure of a dam that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ike. The dam was built in the subdivision of Wild Country Lake Estates nearly 20 years ago. The dam is very important to the subdivision as it provides the subdivision with a scenic lake, but more importantly, the dam itself links the two sides of the subdivision. The dam is about 75 yards across and the top of the dam serves as a road for vehicles. Without that 75 yard link (which is currently closed due to the damage), vehicles must drive about 8 miles to get from one side of the subdivision to the other, "This creates a problem for emergency vehicles", Willis says, "Ambulances, fire trucks, law enforcement are all losing precious minutes because of this damage to the road, that's why we need to fix it". "My office is taking steps to save the dam, but we're going to need help from the state, and possibly federal dollars". Willis is still waiting to hear from engineers and inspectors about the exact extent of the damage, but FEMA estimates the cost could be several hundred thousand dollars. "That's why we're seeking outside help, from congressional leaders and state senators and FEMA, the cost would put a strain on the County's budget".
Water continues to flow over the top of the dam into the damaged area causing erosion.
Currently, the dam is too un-stable for vehicles to drive across, so it's closed. The outside wall of the dam has a gaping hole caused by Hurricane Ike and flooding from the storm. The hole measures more than 10 yards across and more than 20 yards long ways. Water continues to flow across the top of the dam and into the already washed out hole. "That's a big concern, if the water isn't stopped from flowing into the hole, it's going to completely destroy the dam due to washout", Willis says, "...we need to get the level of the lake down. This will stop the water from flowing into the damaged part of the dam, and reduce the strain on the dam from the weight of the water". Time is crucial, heavy rains could complete the destruction of the dam leaving a major depression in the terrain when the lake drains. The area where a scenic lake used to be would become overgrown with weeds and underbrush and become unsightly. Willis came this morning to meet with locals about a pipe that can be used to help lower the level of the lake. The pipe hasn't been used in several years, and is intended to serve as a spillway keeping the water from getting to high, the problem is, the pipe is clogged up from dirt, algae, and vegetation growth. The men are hoping to be able to get the pipe unclogged and lower the level of the lake to buy more time in hopes of saving the dam. "It's not too late, but we need to get something done...." Willis says. "We're working with FEMA and are in communication with other sources to get this fixed, this is too important to this subdivision to let it get away".