Mandatory evacuation orders lifted for communities near Lake Oroville

On Sunday, when erosion of the lake's emergency spillway triggered a sudden evacuation order, area roads quickly suffered gridlock.

The sheriff of Butte County, Kory Honea, reminded residents that while the risk level was reduced to let people back into the area, "this is still an emergency situation".

Almost 200,000 people remain under an evacuation warning but an order to leave their homes was lifted Tuesday.

According to Linville, there still remained a "heightened awareness" of the Oroville Dam situation with the new storm approaching.

The lifting of the mandatory evacuation improved the mood among evacuees at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, where families packed cars and sifted through piles of donated clothing.

State Fire and Rescue Chief Kim Zagaris said at least 250 law enforcement officers from throughout the state are in the area or on their way to help with the evacuation.

Bales said "many, if not most, of the large dams have water at pretty high levels behind them" and dam operators across California are trying to keep water levels low enough to accommodate incoming amounts from this year's rainstorms.

The California governor requested direct federal assistance while federal, state and local officials investigate damage and what other federal assistance could be required.

February 11: At 6:45 a.m., DWR informed the public that the lake level was expected to exceed 901 feet and flow over the top of the Emergency Spillway.

Since the threat of a spillway failure was identified, reinforcing boulders have been placed at the rate of 40 truckloads per hour, and helicopters also moved reinforcements every minute and a half, Croyle said.

When reservoirs get too full, their operators release extra water down long channels, or spillways, created to carry it downstream and into safety. Others who were living in shelters or sleeping in their vehicles were complaining by Monday that they wanted to return to their homes. Even more surprising was the order to evacuate Sunday, when the dam's unpaved emergency spillway looked ready to give way.

The Department of Water Resources began releasing water down its main spillway last week to make more room in the reservoir behind the 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam.

Butte County Jail was in the zone that would receive significant damage if the Oroville Dam spillway gave out, CBS SF reported.

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.

"We're going to wait until the storm comes through", said Mrs Anna Lawson, 21.

  • Carolyn Briggs