Residents living on the Cumberland River, downstream from the Wolf Creek Dam can now see the worst case scenario if the dam were to break. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released flood inundation maps to 23 public libraries that would be effected if the dam were to give way. Inundation maps show an aerial view of the areas that would be flooded.
There was a steady stream of people coming into the Cumberland County Public Library Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007, to find out the fate of their homes if the dam were to break. While some in the path of the Wolf Creek Dam are worried about the possibility of a major catastrophe, others aren't really that concerned.
"Everywhere you go, anyone you speak to, it comes up, when the dam breaks, instead of if the dam breaks. A lot of people have already made it almost a certainty," said Richard Alexander, Cumberland County's librarian.
As a librarian for the Cumberland County Public Library, Alexander has seen an inundation of residents looking at the new flood inundation maps.
"It's increased traffic in the library tremendously. People have been in that didn't even know we had a library," Alexander said.
Alexander also said the new maps are helpful to residents because they can plan for the worst, if the dam were to break.
"I really didn't think my house would be under water but looking at that map, it looks like it will be. I am concerned. I don't worry about it, it's not letting me sleep or anything, but I think I do need to be concerned and prepared," said Burkesville resident Patricia Garner.
Some residents are worried about what would happen if the dam were to break, others are thinking further ahead to the days after.
"I'm kind of concerned, what might happen after two weeks or eight inches of rain, you know, because then it gets into situations you really can't predict," said Mary Keogh, Cumberland County resident.
Having to deal with water logged books and ruined flood inundation maps doesn't bother Alexander.
" I don't think it will (laughs), I don't know, and I really am not going to worry about it, if it breaks I'll head for the hills," Alexander said.
These maps only show consequences of failure, not probability of the dam failing. According to a release from the corps, even though the maps contain sensitive information that could be used to harm the public, the public's need for knowledge in this situation outweighs the need for security. No one is allowed to take the maps out of the libraries or take pictures of them. Repair work on the dam began last month and could continue for the next seven years.
For a complete list of libraries that have the flood inundation maps visit: www.lrn.usace.army.mil.