LAKE THURMOND (WFXG) - As Hurricane Irma continues to make her way throughout the southeast, park rangers and officials are keeping an eye on the lake levels. But Operations Project Manager, Scott Hyatt, says the team has a pretty solid plan in place to keep the lake from flooding and seeping into the yards of those nearby. "We've got plenty of storage capacity in the dam. We've got no concerns that there will be forced flooding from the event. Right now, the lake is down 7 feet from full summer pool and then above the full summer pool, we have 5 feet of flood storage. So, there's 12 feet of storage available in the lake so we could easily accommodate the rain that's coming and a good bit more after that," says Hyatt.
Hyatt says that evacuees have already begun filtering into lake Thurmond's camp grounds. But lake officials won't know until Sunday whether or not this location will be safe enough for them to remain here. "We're needing to keep an eye on the winds and things as the track shifts to make sure that those people are going to be safe in the campgrounds and if there's a safer place to direct them to, then we can do that. That' my biggest concern right now," says Hyatt.
Overall, Hyatt sees this possible heavy rainfall has a good opportunity for the lake to level out. "From strictly a rainfall standpoint, this should be a great event for us. We had a significant drought a year before. We're still 6 inches behind on rain for the past year so there's a good chance that this rain event will probably catch us up and get us to average rainfall for the last year," says Hyatt.
Lake Thurmond Visitor's Center will keep watch for threatening rainfall coming in on Stevens creek and areas below the dam before stopping all operations at the lake. Lake staff urge visitors who will be out on the lake before and after the storm to be cautious of the high winds.