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Expect a very different view of the dam at Lake Tabor before the end of the year.

Engineering work is largely complete, parts and materials are on order, and work to repair damage to the dam from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence two years later to begin soon, Grimes Engineering owner John Grimes said after meeting with potential bidders for that work at the dam last week.

Most of the work will be largely out of sight, especially replacing a gate at the bottom of a concrete structure just in front of the main dam on the lake.

Divers, Grimes said, will do that work, although the lake level has been dropped to accommodate that and other ongoing work.

Replacing portions of the concrete cap in the center section of the dam is partially complete, along with shoring up rock that provides stability on either side of the area where water generally flows.

More of those big stones are coming, Grimes said.

Repairs have been ongoing since Hurricane Matthew damaged the structure. That damage was significant, but not catastrophic.

Damage from Hurricane Florence was more severe.

“That’s as close as I’ve ever seen a dam come to failing, without failing,” Grimes said.

Hurricane Matthew, it turns out, essentially saved the Lake Tabor dam.

Repairs began after Hurricane Matthew were not complete before Florence brought record rainfall and flooding to the area. Matthew was bad enough, Florence added insult to injury.

But the repairs made to the dam after Matthew were critical.

“Without those repairs, the dam would have failed during Florence,” Grimes said. “No doubt about it.”

State and federal grants funding the repairs related both from Matthew and Florence are expected not only to make the dam whole, but to make it better, more able to withstand future storms.

Armor, all?

Lake Tabor’s dam will look noticeably and dramatically different when the work is done, because much of it will be armored, Grimes said.

Many, perhaps most think of the steel and concrete structure on the southeastern shore of the lake, where water drains into Grissett Swamp, as the Lake Tabor dam. But the dam, Grimes said, includes the earthen bank that stretches nearly to Lynwood Norris Street and well past the gated fence on the opposite side of the steel and concrete structure.

Grass grows over much of that portion of the dam, but won’t by the end of the year.

Armor is coming.

Armored plating will be installed in large squares, a computer and satellite GPS guided backhoe insuring precise placement of each section, Grimes said.

“It’s impressive,” Grimes said of the process. “It will look impressive.”


Repairs and improvements to the dam don’t come cheap. Grants for the project, include a $401,308 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant early this year, total about $2 million, Town Manager Al Leonard said.

Without the grants, Leonard said in January, repairing the dam “would have wiped out the town’s treasury.”

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