By: Marla Carter
Unexpectedly Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12, approximately 188,000 residents were evacuated from their homes in Northern California due to the Oroville Dam. All of the continuous snow and rain that flowed from the Sierra Nevada mountain range made the water levels rise higher than it had in years. The California Department of Water Resource (CDWR) had planned to use the emergency spillways, but no one had imagined that both spillways were damaged. The emergency spillway hasn’t been used in 48-years and is only used if the water levels reach 901 feet above elevation. The damage to the spillway was caused by erosion with the hole in the dam being 250 ft. long, 170 ft. wide and about 40 to 50 feet deep.
The following day, the California Department of Water Resources had helicopters dropping rocks into the damaged part of the dam. They were hoping to fill the hole slightly so that the water could run down the emergency way. The CDWR has been watching the upcoming forecast to plan how to keep the surrounding communities safe.
“The risk level was reduced that I felt people could return to the area, however they need to maintain vigilance,” said Kory Honea, sheriff of Butte County. By Tuesday, the mandatory evacuation will be lifted.