Thousands evacuated as dam threatens to burst in Massachusetts Oct 18 2:25 PM US/Eastern Police evacuated several thousand people from the Massachusetts city of Taunton as a dam threatened to burst and send a 10-foot (three-meter) surge through the downtown area. Officials said heavy rainfall over the past week had placed enormous pressure on the wooden Whittendon Pond Dam which controls water flow along the Mill River that passes through Taunton. If the dam was to fail, officials said a second dam further upstream would also likely collapse, emptying two lakes at the same time. "If the dams go, they're expecting a 10-foot surge," said Taunton Police Department spokesman Eric Nichols. "So anybody along that Mill River watershed area and anybody downtown has been evacuated," said Nichols, who put the number of displaced people at 5,000 people. Taunton, which lies just south of Boston, has a population of close to 50,000 people. All businesses, schools and government offices, including the court and city hall were closed. In an effort to control the situation, engineers were carefully releasing water through both dams. Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said it could be some time before the evacuees could return home. "It could go on for days," Judge said of the efforts to relieve the pressure on the dam.