SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- Nearly two dozen families will have to find another place to sleep for a second night, for fear a dam near their apartment could collapse.
Sandy Springs Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Duke said they first got a 911 call for a broken gas line at The Falls off Roswell Road. But soon realized it was caused by a pieces of pavement that fell when a portion of the pedestrian bridge fell to the ground.
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"At first, there was a big bang," resident Ruby McQueen said. "And the bridge collapsed. We saw all the [emergency] vehicles, and the water running. It was pretty frightening."
Assistant City Manager Bryant Poole blames the dam's drainage pipes.
"These were metal pipes, they were rusted out. It just allowed the water instead of flowing through the pipe, to begin going around it, saturating the soil around it, which then makes the hole bigger for the water to go through," he said.
Hours after the collapse, the concrete continued to separate, forcing crews to pump out the pond's water to try to alleviate pressure.
By late Thursday afternoon, the city had hooked up four pumps, to pull out nearly 4,500 gallons of water a minute from the pond. But even at that rate, said it could take until late Friday morning to completely drain it. That's of course, assuming it doesn't rain some more.
In the meantime, residents directly in the waterfall's path, have been ordered to stay away.
"We don't have any clothes right now. Maybe I'll go shopping around a little bit get something for my kids. We're not prepared for it, it just happened suddenly," said Rania Ivraham.
11Alive caught up with her by her car, where she'd spent the night with her three kids. Like many residents, she didn't learn the Red Cross had set up a shelter at the United Methodist Church on Mt. Vernon Road, until early Thursday morning.
It's not the first time the pond has caused problems. In 2003, heavy rains eroded one of the ponds retaining walls, crumbling the section of Roswell Road right in front of the apartment complex.
The complex owners have yet to speak about the problem but a city spokeswoman says they intend to redesign and rework the entire dam system.
Road crews re-opened most of Roswell Road after engineers said the busy street was safe. One northbound remains closed and clogged with trucks and equipment.