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Lafayette County Lake Levee in Danger As City of Oxford Floods

Fire trucks pumping water beside a flooded area
Firefighters pumped water out of this small lake off Wishing Tree Lane in Lafayette County on Wednesday June 9, 2021. The levee located on Lake Tara just north of the city limits is in danger of breaching. Photo by Grace Marion

A levee may burst on the edge of Oxford, the Lafayette County Fire Department has warned since Wednesday, but much of the town is facing flooding with or without it.

Firefighters pumped water to relieve the dam, located on the edge of Lake Tara, throughout the day Wednesday. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality took over water relief efforts starting late last night, a tweet from the Lafayette County Fire Department reported. The fire department lifted its earlier evacuation recommendation for evacuating the area surrounding Lake Tara just before 6 p.m. last night.

The City of Oxford saw more than 8 inches of rainfall in the span of 36 hours starting Tuesday, and then Wednesday morning saw more than 2.5 inches of rain in just three hours, the City of Oxford announced. Weather reports say that Oxford will see rain again Friday as well.

Water pooled on the roadside
Water pooled on roadsides, like this one near the levee on Lake Tara just outside Oxford, as well as parking lots throughout the city over the course of Oxford’s days-long rainstorm. Photo by Grace Marion

At least seven roads were partially or totally flooded this morning, with two blocked by downed trees. Rainfall washed out County Road 317, the Lafayette County Fire Department announced on Twitter this morning.

The Oxford Police Department showed flooded locations like MTrade Park, Turnberry Circle and Hawthorn on its Twitter page as examples of the flooding.

Flooded dog park on McElroy Drive
The dog park on McElroy Drive experienced flooding yesterday, alongside several other locations throughout Oxford. Photo by Grace Marion

Oxford’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance outlines regulations regarding development in flood-prone areas, in compliance with the city’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program helps to provide both homeowners and renters in participating communities with flood insurance, regardless of their location’s flood-zone classification.

“Since damages incurred from flooding are generally not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, the NFIP can be a valuable source of protection for property owners and renters living in high flood hazard or low lying areas,” the City of Oxford’s website explains.

The site provides residents with a digital tool that allows them to see if they live in a floodplain. The map shows that several areas throughout the city are floodways, defined in the city ordinance as “the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than one foot.”

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