Repairs continue on Vernon Lake dam seriously damaged during Harvey

Repairs continue on Vernon Lake dam seriously damaged during Harvey

LEESVILLE, LA (KPLC) - It's been over two months since Tropical Storm Harvey made its way through Southwest Louisiana but areas are still working to repair damage caused by the storm.

Vernon Lake has been lowered to 12.5 feet below pool stage.

Rodney Mallett, with The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, says the water has been lowered to repair the damage.

"The damage is bad enough for us to draw down the lake so we could assess the situation and we know we are going to have to repair both slides and with the status of those slides right now, we are not going to refill the lake until we get the slides repaired," said Mallett.

Hundreds of residents were asked to evacuate during Harvey because there was doubt the dam would hold steady.

That influx of water damaged the two slides, one on the inside and one on the outside.

"They're going to fill in the slides and they're also going to make some minor repairs to the spillway," said Mallet.

DOTD says the dam is stable now. The management gate will be operated to keep the water low, but it may fluctuate with rainfall. However, Mallett says there is no threat of a breach in the slides or spillway.

"We aren't going to refill the water," said Mallett. "If we refill the lake, the pressure on that area could cause some issues downstream, so we are going to keep it at this level until the repairs are completed."

Bodies of water south of Vernon Lake like Anacoco Lake are being monitored. Anacoco is being kept at pool stage to prevent any issues farther south as well.

Any area along the Anacoco Bayou down to the Sabine River could be affected by Vernon Lake, if the dam were to breach.

The repairs are expected to take around a year. Mallett says the work is being funded with money from FEMA.

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