Mandatory evacuation orders for counties and cities in the vicinity of Lake Oroville led to displacement of about 188,000 people in the Northern California region. The evacuation was kicked off after authorities found damage to the spillway of the dam. There is a chance that the uncontrolled water could lead to multiple fatalities in a number of communities living down the stream.
The Oroville Dam, the tallest in the nation continues to intact. However, the problem lies with the emergency spillway, that ensures water does not overflow the dam top during rising water levels, were found to be in an eroded state and still eroding. The dam is 770 feet tall.
The Oroville Dam's water levels went up after heavy snowfall and rain. The preceding years were of heavy drought. This is the maiden tome when the dam experienced such an emergency during its 50 year history. Lake Oroville is positioned 65 miles to the north of Sacramento.
About 100,000 cubic feet of water per second is being released by California Department of Water Resources. The water is flowing from the main spillway to lower the levels of the lake and to relieve pressure. Helicopters were sent to dtop boulders so that the eroded area next to spillway can be blocked.
Orders for evacuation
Kory Honea, the Sheriff of Butte County, reiterated hat evacuation orders continued to be valid. In his statement on social media on February 12 afternoon, the sheriff ordered the evacuation of county residents. To emphasize the urgency, he repeated multiple times that the action cannot be construed as a practice run. It was warned by California Department of Water Resources that spillway adjacent to dam could possibly fail.
Roads leading to safe zones were gridlocked with traffic. A number of evacuees have complained that they should have been warned earlier. Officials of Butte County shared news via social media. There were reports that hotels were completely booked in wider area. Authorities defended the evacuation, saying that it is better for residents to leave, rather then risking many lives. Kevin Lawson, commander of California Fire Incident, said that they are afraid to encounter a massive 30 foot water wall crashing out of lake. He stressed, however, that there was no danger of collapse of the entire dam, warning that there could be a potential overspill which could be dangerous for human settlements in the vicinity.