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News Worms


Mandatory Evacuation Order Issued for Oroville, Marysville Residents, Officials Say

Mandatory Evacuation Order Issued for Oroville, Marysville Residents, Officials Say

Officials are attempting to lower Lake Oroville's water levels ahead of the atmospheric river storm system set to arrive by Wednesday night, which is expected to bring more rainfall and snow to northern California.

The evacuation was ordered Sunday afternoon after engineers spotted erosion on the dam's secondary spillway.

Water levels at Lake Orville rose so high that an emergency spillway was used Saturday for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The state said Saturday that repairs to the primary spillway at Oroville Dam - the nation's tallest earthen dam - could run as much as $200 million but that was before critical damage to the emergency spillway.

In the main spillway, which is lined, or paved, erosion has caused a hole nearly the size of a football field and at least 40 feet deep to form in the lower part of the channel.

However it was still standing almost three hours later as the department said crews would use helicopters to drop rocks to fill a gouge in the spillway. A mandatory evacuation order was ordered Sunday from authorities after fears the 48-year-old dam's emergency spillway could suffer critical failure and lead to the release of large, uncontrolled amounts of water downstream.

But Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea didn't say how long the fixes could take and offered no timetable for lifting the evacuation order.

The 2005 motion filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows three advocacy groups said using the emergency spillway on the tallest U-S dam would cause significant erosion.

California Department of Water Resources personnel monitor water flowing through a damaged spillway on the Oroville Dam in Oroville, California.

The National Weather Service urged people living downstream of the tallest dam in the USA to flee to higher ground on Sunday, after authorities said that a damaged auxiliary spillway was on the verge of collapse.

The dam's spillway was "predicted to fail within the next hour", the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) said at around 4:30pm PST Sunday (00:30 GMT Monday). Rather than risk thousands of lives, the decision was made to order evacuations.

People in downstream areas need to leave the area immediately, the department said. Officials are trying to get the lake level to drop to 50 feet below spill stage.

The emergency spillway helped for a time to prevent flooding from the crumbling dam.

At least 130,000 people have been asked to evacuate.

Meanwhile, Sikh temples, churches, and schools in the Sacramento area have opened their doors to all evacuated people, offering food and shelter.

The dam is just upstream and to the east of Oroville, a city of more than 16,260 people.

The barrier is 770-feet (235 meters) high, making it 14 meters taller than the more famous Hoover Dam.

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