Nearly 200,000 people living downstream from the tallest dam in the US were ordered to evacuate their homes on Sunday because an overflow channel appeared to be in danger of imminent collapse.
The abrupt evacuation order was issued mid-afternoon, as authorities determined that the auxiliary spillway on the Lake Oroville dam in northern California could give way, potentially unleashing a wall of water on to rural communities along the Feather river.
“Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered,” the Butte County sheriff said in a statement on Facebook. “This is not a drill.”
The California department of water resources said the overflow channel was “predicted to fail within the next hour”.
Several hours later the threat had receded and the overflow channel remained intact, though the evacuation order was still in place.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION: Auxiliary spillway at Oroville Dam predicted to fail within the next hour. Oroville residents evacuate northward.
— CA – DWR (@CA_DWR) February 13, 2017
.@JerryBrownGov Issues Emergency Order to Help Response to #OrovilleSpillway https://t.co/RW8XBlLFT6 pic.twitter.com/ULQGjkt1c1
— Gov. Brown Press Ofc (@GovPressOffice) February 13, 2017
Traffic backed up getting out of Marysville due to evacuation notice for Oroville Adam. pic.twitter.com/3tlSCmlwky
— Caltrans District 3 (@CaltransDist3) February 13, 2017
Article excerpt [theguardian]