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'Potential' Dam Break In Tuolumne County Leads To Evacuations

TUOLUMNE COUNTY (CBS13) – A flash flood warning has been issued for south central Tuolumne County on Moccasin Creek after the operators of Moccasin Creek Dam reported the dam's possible failure Thursday afternoon.

CBS 13 in Sacramento reported that the National Weather Service reported at about 2:45 p.m. that the dam's failure was 'imminent' and flood waters would move down Moccasin Creek to Don Pedro Reservoir. As a result, facilities downstream of the dam along the creek, including the Moccasin Point Campground, were evacuated, according to a National Weather Service statement issued Thursday afternoon.


The dam is owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and is part of the Hetch Hetchy Water Project.

The SFPUC released a statement saying officials are monitoring the situation in Tuolumne County. Officials said there is no threat to the Bay Area's water supply at this time and that all people potentially in harm's way have been evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

The utility agency dispatched a team to monitor the dam after heavy rainflow caused a surge of water and debris into the Moccasin Reservoir, which is more than 100 miles east of San Francisco.

Significant flooding has been reported, and the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department dispatched a swift water rescue team to assist a couple that had gotten caught on top of a chicken coop after their home and vehicles were submerged in water.

As of 4:45 p.m. no injuries had been reported, according to sheriff's officials and the risk of dam failure had been downgraded from "imminent" to "potential."

The Tuolomne County Sheriff said a hatchery and other facilities downstream have been evacuated and a precautionary evacuation was underway at the Moccasin Point campground.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the Tuolumne County Sheriff tweeted downgraded the dam's safety from imminent to potential.

Highway 120 and Old and New Priest Grade have been reopened. According to Caltrans,  Highway 49 remained closed at junction of Highway 120 due to an undercut roadway.

The town of Moccasin is above the dam and was not be affected.

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