Crews work to seal California spillway that forced evacuations
- Author: Leroy Wright Feb 16, 2017,
Feb 16, 2017, 1:45
The almost 200,000 residents downstream of the Oroville Dam - the nation's highest - were allowed to return home on Wednesday, but weregild by local authorities to remain "vigilant".
A number of Northern California fairs stepped-up at a moment's notice to provide shelter for people and animals, including pets, horses and a few head of livestock. Often times they were to homes of people who had evacuated.
Wet weather later this week could spell more trouble for the dam, though officials said storms shouldn't be as strong as the recent systems that have pushed lake levels to their highest. He added that the almost 200,000 residents should use the time this week before the storms fully move in to prepare for another evacuation, if needed. But at the time California, and federal officials dismissed them. But the impending storm is expected to be less severe than previous ones.
From the air and the ground, crews are feverishly working, using massive bags of rocks and gravel to fill the eroded base of the Oroville Dam's emergency spillway. They are bonafide public assets; essential institutions that serve Californians in many important ways. Officials hope to drain the lake another 37 feet.
A spokesperson for the State Department of Water Resources said lake levels are also dropping at a rate of eight feet per day.
Crews, meanwhile, worked on Tuesday night to Wednesday morning to fortify the dam's spillway at Lake Oroville, the Sacramento Bee reported. Croyle says a storm Wednesday appears to be small and that the reservoir's water levels should keep shrinking.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump approved signed an order allowing federal funds to aid local and state spillway fix efforts, NBC Bay Area reported.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency order Sunday directing all necessary resources to deal with the problem, but he remained out of the spotlight Monday.
"The situation is a textbook example of why we need to pursue a major infrastructure package in Congress", Spicer said at a daily briefing on February 14.
Oroville Dam was built by the DWR from 1961 to 1968 as one of the key features of the California State Water Project (SWP) mainly for water supply, hydroelectricity generation and flood control.
To relieve pressure on the dam, more than 2800 cubic metres of water per second were being released into the main damaged spillway, almost double its usual capacity.
Department of Water Resources is releasing water at nearly 100,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in hopes of making room for more rain and runoff expected from storms that will arrive in the Oroville area late Wednesday or early Thursday. Normal flows down the main spillway are about 55,000 cubic feet per second.
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".
But Richard and Anna Lawson, also of Oroville, said they were not rushing home.
Just in case, she kept her bags packed and ready to go.