Massachusetts officials closed schools, businesses and City Hall in Taunton, located about 35 miles south of Boston, because of concern that a dam may burst and unleash a wall of water as high as six feet. The 100-year-old Whittenton Pond dam may buckle after about nine inches of rain fell in the city since the beginning of the month, according to a statement on the Internet site of the National Weather Service.
"This is an extremely dangerous and life threatening situation," according to a weather service flash flood warning for the area issued at 4:35 a.m. The Boston area office for the weather service is based in Taunton, Bloomberg says.
Taunton Mayor Robert Nunes declared a state of emergency and about 2,000 residents were evacuated, the Associated Press reported Monday. Taunton has a population of 56,000 and is the county seat for Bristol County, the sixth-largest in the state.
The privately owned dam is built across the Mill River and forms 274-acre Sabbatia Lake.
"I've got my fingers crossed this thing will be able to hold," Governor Mitt Romney, who toured the area this morning, said in a televised interview on WCVB-TV, Boston's ABC affiliate. "There is every prospect that it will give way and we will have a very significant water event."