Mandatory Evacuation Orders Lifted Below Oroville Dam

  • Photos courtesy of California Department of Water Resources
Local officials monitoring the Oroville Spillway crisis lifted a mandatory evacuation order for communities below the dam along the Feather River, but the decision to allow residents to return home  if they choose to also carried the caveat that there is still a risk.
Here’s the Chico Enterprise-Record with more:

At a 1:45 p.m. news conference in Oroville, officials said the threat of a concrete wall collapsing at the head of the emergency spillway has been minimized and residents can return home. It’s now just an evacuation warning rather than a mandatory evacuation. Residents should still be prepared to leave if conditions worsen, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said.

More than 180,000 people in Oroville, Gridley and other cities along the Feather River corridor in Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties were told to quickly evacuate at 4 p.m. Sunday because dam operators feared the structure could collapse.

Tractors and trucks full of huge boulders were working at the dam this morning, trying to plug a hole that developed in the emergency spillway below the concrete wall when the lake overflowed into it Saturday.

As of noon, dam operators were releasing 100,000 cubic-feet per second of water down the broken regular spillway, which started coming apart on Feb. 7. They are trying to lower the lake in anticipation of incoming storms, which are supposed to arrive late Wednesday. The lake has dropped 14 feet since it reached its peak when it started overflowing Saturday.