Oroville, California Residents Were Evacuated Due to a Dam Spill

Engineers anxious the fast-moving water could undercut the 1,730 foot concrete lip at the top of the emergency spillway, resulting in a collapse of the structure followed by an uncontrolled release of billions of gallons of water into residential areas. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered. "We just grabbed everything we could", she said.

An emergency evacuation of Yuba City and Marysville was ordered as of 5:39 pm PST. Residents of eight cities in the dam's vicinity were told to evacuate shortly before 5 p.m. local time on Sunday. But they stressed the situation remains risky. "I was like, 'Really?' He was like, 'Yeah.'" Even though water levels have receded 24 hours later, evacuations remain in place and Geltz said they should.

"There was significant concern that [the hole] would compromise the integrity of the spillway, resulting in a substantial release of water", Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea told the Los Angeles. Authorities were also releasing water to lower the lake's level.

Butte county officials said they evacuated jail inmates due to the situation.

"It's clear the circumstances are complex and rapidly changing".

Read on for a numerical breakdown of the dam, the risks and amount of water involved.

Drivers jammed highways overnight and this morning as thousands of residents scrambled to flee the area. "I've seen the pictures - that's a lot of water".

"We're not at the point yet where we can make decisions about whether or not it is safe to repopulate areas".

There is no estimation on when people will be able to return to their homes, but the Red Cross said it was preparing to help evacuees for as long as needed. Last week, a almost 200-foot long, 30-foot deep hole was created after chunks of concrete came off the main spillway.

Officials were preparing to deploy swift-water rescue teams while using helicopters to drop bags of rocks into the lake to try and plug the hole, Honea said. It was expected to stop by midday Monday.

By Sunday evening, officials had detected erosion in both spillways as water began pouring over onto the hillside and dragging trees and mud into the Feather River, which runs near downtown Oroville.

The federal disaster-management agency's Region 9, which oversees California and other Western states, has mobilized a 24-hour task force to coordinate its response with state and local agencies, said Mary Simms, a spokeswoman.

  • Arturo Norris