Californians were on high alert on February 12 when the Oroville Dam’s spillways started failing, leaving the town in danger of flooding. Learn five fast facts about the serious emergency leaving Oroville and its surrounding towns in jeopardy.
1. Over 180,000 people were evacuated from Oroville, California on February 12 when the Oroville Dam’s spillway began to fail
California Governor Jerry Brown issued an emergency order on February 12 to get Oroville’s 180,000 residents out of town when it was revealed that the massive Oroville Dam was struggling to contain the waters of Lake Oroville. The dam’s spillway had developed a huge hole, and water was rushing over the sides at an alarming rate, so much so that the second, emergency spillway was in danger of collapsing. And that could lead to the town’s flooding.
2. The spillway’s hole developed because of California’s wet winter
After a devastating drought, California experienced a winter full of heavy rains. In the last few weeks, the rains were especially strong, and the waters in the Oroville reservoir rose a stunning 50 feet. The waters met the emergency spillway, which hasn’t been used since 1968, and then poured over.
3. Evacuees were placed in emergency shelters in Chico, California
Residents of Oroville, a town 70 miles north of California capital Sacramento, and neighboring town Gridley, were urged to evacuate to nearby town Chico, where they were set up in a shelter at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. Residents were confused and scared about the emergency, one woman named Marilyn McKinney telling local KQED: “My daughter-in-law is still there with her sister, who is bedridden, but we’ve got her in a wheelchair. They were supposed to be sending an ambulance or someone to help transport her out. And nobody has shown up for her yet. She called 911, and 911 said they weren’t sending anybody else out.”
4. Repairing the dam is going to be insanely expensive
Oroville Dam is the second-largest reservoir in California, and holds back 3.5 acre-feet of water. Repairing the damaged infrastructure of the dam and its spillways is going to be a massive undertaking, speculated to cost between $100 million and $200 million! The Department of Water Resources is hoping that it will be back in full working condition by October 2017.
5. Oroville is no longer in danger after lake waters receded
The emergency situation is over in Oroville as of Monday, February 13. The lake is “full” at 901 feet above sea level, and when it passed that point it became an issue. Levels have dropped below 900 feet now, and everything appears to be in order. Dry weather in the forecast seems promising, as well.
HollywoodLifers, we’re hoping for a safe return home to Oroville’s residents!