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Officials pumping out water in effort to save crumbling dam

LAMAR COUNTY — Officials are using pumps to drop water levels in an earthen dam at the southern end of the Lake Serene system in Lamar County near Hattiesburg that was damaged by the heavy rains of Hurricane Isaac.

More than a foot of rain that fell in the area last week saturated the barrier between Oak Grove and Stump lakes, causing about a 100-yard section of the downstream embankment to slough off, County Engineer Don Walker told the Hattiesburg American.

Since being discovered Monday, the jagged surface crack has extended to the western edge of now-closed Buccaneer Drive, crumbling the asphalt edge in growing sections.

Walker said the dam has not been breached.

A precautionary evacuation of 14 homes below the Buccaneer Drive Dam has been issued.

“The good part, 95 percent of the dam structure, even in the area where it’s sloughed off in the back, is intact,” said Larry Moore, Lake Serene Homeowners Association board member.

Opening the spillway gates only will drop the level of 105-acre Oak Grove Lake by about 6 inches to 8 inches a day, Moore said.

To hasten the effort and relieve the pressure on the dam as quickly as possible, Lamar County borrowed three pumps and pumping began Tuesday night.

Walker said it could take three to four days to lower Oak Grove Lake to the point where the damage can be assessed.

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