October 17, 2005

Massachusetts evacuates 2,000 people as dam buckles

BOSTON (Reuters) - Police urged about 2,000 people to
evacuate their homes in southern Massachusetts on Monday after
a dam strained by record rainfall began to buckle and
threatened to flood low-lying neighborhoods.

Massachusetts emergency management officials said the
Whittendon Pond Dam in Taunton about 33 miles south of Boston
could fail after record rainfall swelled rivers and ponds
across northeastern United States last week.

"Downstream from the river there are about 100 homes as
well as downtown Taunton," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, referring to the
city of 49,800 people.

The National Weather Service issued a "flash flood"
advisory that said the situation was "extremely dangerous" and
"life threatening." A make-shift shelter was opened for
residents who live along a river downstream from the dam.

Torrential rain and floods swamped cities across the
northeastern United States last week, washing out roads,
triggering mudslides, leading to power outages and forcing
hundreds of people to flee their drenched homes.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has estimated the week of
rain and floods likely caused $6.5 million in damage, a
threshold that would make the state eligible for federal aid.