Evacuees from California dam allowed home even as storms near
- Author: Todd Kelly Feb 16, 2017,
Feb 16, 2017, 0:50
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) anxious that further erosion at the head of the spillway would unleash an uncontrolled torrent from Lake Oroville, the second largest man-made lake in the state of California. The greater danger was posed by the emergency spillway, which was subjected to urgent repairs in recent days. That allows the state to potentially get up to 75 percent federal reimbursement for "required emergency protective measures", which might include the cost of repairing the dam's emergency spillway.
Authorities ordered mass evacuations on Sunday for everyone living below the lake out of concern that the spillway could fail and send a 30ft wall of water downstream.
An evacuation center at Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico will remain open, but all other centers supported by Butte County will be closed.
He said: "I am confident with the warning - at least we will know the next time something happens, to be prepared more than this time".
She said the rush to leave was "very frustrating" as she threw belongings into black garbage bags, loaded them into the auto before quickly becoming trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Rod Remocal, who fled his home on Sunday, said he was going to leave the shelter but would be at the ready for another notice to evacuate.
"They kept contradicting themselves".
At the time, a hole developed in the emergency spillway structure as water cascaded down the dirt ravine.
"Altogether, it does look like we could be seeing about a foot in that area", said Eric Kurth, a meteorologist with NWS in Sacramento.
The evacuation orders came Sunday night in Butte and Yuba counties, Yuba City and Marysville, as damage was discovered to the Oroville Dam, the nation's highest dam.
A crew of 98 workers and a fleet of trucks and helicopters have been dumping 1,200 tons of rocks into the damaged area under the emergency spillway since Monday morning.
Bill Coyle, the acting director of the state Department of Water Resources, has been overseeing the dam fix project.
Officials had managed to avert an expected structural collapse of the top portion of the dam's emergency spillway by releasing massive amounts of water via the damaged mail spillway, lowering the level of the lake so that it no longer poured over the concrete berm at 901 feet above sea level.
Tones of rock and sand have been air lifted into place to reinforce the eroded sections of the spillways while engineers drained water out of the lake behind the dam.