The National Weather Service of America ordered the evacuation of areas below the Oroville Dam in Northern California on Sunday due to fear of extreme flooding after officials stated that the dam’s spillway might fail. In such a case, massive amounts of water would be sent into rushing into the Feather River, which runs through downtown Oroville, as well as through other waterways.
On Saturday, February 11th, the emergency spillway was used for the first time as water levels continued to rise. Officials had originally said the situation was under control until Sunday evening when persistent storms caused more water to continue to flow into Lake Oroville. A hole was found in the emergency spillway, causing the need for evacuation as the reservoir on America’s largest dam continues to fill.
Officials are now working to drain the reservoir so the hole can be repaired before Lake Oroville overflows into the Feather River. Many people in that area have said that they have nowhere to go; an evacuation centre has been set up in the nearby town of Chico at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. But, as debris continues to flow down Feather River there is no knowing when residents can return home.
The amount of water spilling into Feather River is so vast—over 55,000 cubic feet flowing into the river every second—it’s only a matter of time before the downtown area begins to see even heavier amounts.
Oroville is home to approximately 16,000 residents, all of which have been ordered to move to higher ground. It’s not only this one small town having to evacuate but also all of the communities around the Feather River Basin, including Yuba City, Live Oak and Nicolaus, as the emergency spillway continues to erode at an alarming rate.
Impending storms in Northern California have experts frantically working on plugging the hole in the emergency spillway using large bags of rocks to slow the erosion of the hole and prevent the amount of water spilling into Lake Oroville from rapidly increasing.
Officials have said that the dam itself is still structurally sound. If the structural integrity of the dam was compromised it would surely lead to disaster.
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