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Residents allowed to return to homes after levee breach risk from flooding near Oxford, MS

Precautionary evacuation lifted for some in Lafayette County subdivision after fire crews lowered water levels; heavy rains elsewhere caused temporary road closures.

OXFORD, Miss — Historic flooding has hit parts of the Mid-South, especially in North Mississippi.

The ongoing rain is causing issues along roadways throughout Lafayette County, and flood warnings continue for that area, as well as Tupelo and New Albany.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, crews said a dam at risk of breaching was under control after fire departments spent hours pumping water from the Lake Tara Dam.

Heavy rains caused space around a pipe that allows water to flow through the dam to open, causing soil to be lifted around the dam.

15 to 18 homes in the Tara Estates subdivision near Oxford, MS would have been impacted with a full dam breach.

"It always feels really very good to know that we are in a position that emergency responders in the county in this position were able to take action to reduce that risk to downstream residents, protect lives and property downstream, it's a great relief," Willie McKercher with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, the Lafayette County Fire Department warned that levee was at risk of breaching in the subdivision, on College Hill Road and asked some residents in the area evacuate as a precaution.

Per Lafayette County EMA Director: The Lake Tara Dam has not breached at this time. A sinkhole is forming on the levee. Local fire officials are pumping the water to relieve pressure off of the levee. The Gumtree Subdivision is in the inundation area.

The area reported a foot of accumulated rainfall the past three days. The precipitation and flash flooding caused a section of CR-317 to collapse and cave in. It also temporarily closed CR-105 and CR-107 and turned fields at mTrade Park into temporary ponds and overwhelmed the dog park next to the Oxford Animal Resource Center. 

"I've been warned about the flooding, but even people who live here say it hasn't been this bad in a long time," Nicole Young, the center's director, said Wednesday.

Young watched as the water rose in recent days.

"Monday little puddles here and there. Yesterday was when it really kind of hit home and started covering the top half of the parking lot, and then it's just continued to rain and rain," Young said.

Until the waters recede, Young said she's fully prepared for worst case scenarios.

"I've kind of come up with a plan of cat litter and sand and things like that. The good news is the building is on a two foot concrete block so we've got that going for us. But I'm just trying to be prepared just in case because I don't think the rain is stopping anytime soon," Young added.

Earlier Wednesday, Oxford Police and the Lafayette County Fire Department reported flooding on roads throughout the city warned drivers to be careful. You can follow Oxford Police on Twitter HERE and Lafayette County Fire on Twitter HERE for an extensive listing of the roads as they post them.