Evacuees Stranded Pending Repairs to Oroville Dam Spillway
Officials have been working around the clock to repair the Oroville Dam spillway and ensure surrounding areas are safe from flooding. Until then, the nearly 200,000 people who were evacuated Sunday near the country’s tallest dam will be unable to return home.
“Two military-grade helicopters picked up 2-ton containers of rocks from a parking lot near Lake Oroville, flew them to the erosion scar at the emergency spillway and dropped the containers into the hole,” CBS reports. “Officials hope this will shore up the emergency spillway’s weir and plug the gouge that could allow water to leak through.”
A hole appeared in the auxiliary spillway of the dam Sunday, sending water over the top and raising the risk of major uncontrolled flooding in nearby towns. Thousands of people across three counties were promptly evacuated.
Tough questions are already being asked about flood risk warnings that were reportedly ignored for years by state and federal officials.
Environmental activists and local government officials warned more than a decade ago about the risk of catastrophic flooding below a major Northern California dam -- the very scenario that threatened to unfold over the weekend, prompting evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people.
State and federal regulators dismissed those fears at the time, saying they were confident the hillside that helps hold back hundreds of billions of gallons of water was stable and did not need to be reinforced with concrete.
You can catch updates and video of the repair efforts at the Los Angeles Times.