Los Angeles: The emergency evacuation orders that had been issued three days ago regarding damaged Oroville Dam spillway has been lifted and people have been allowed to return back to their abandoned homes. People were summarily told to evacuate the region close to the Oroville Dam, the highest dam in United States.
On Sunday, the residents of the area were told to immediately evacuate to safer places, leaving everything behind. It was something that had never happened with the people and so the anxiety and the fear was on its zenith.
Now while the residents have been allowed to go back to their homes, fear is palpable in the region. Nonetheless, despite being apprehensive about the development people were happy to be finally back to their homes.
The three counties that were evacuated and looked like ghost towns, saw a semblance of normalcy return as cars started streaming back. As the fear of disaster died down, officials downgraded the evacuation order to a warning, allowing residents of Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties to return.
Reports suggest that officials became rather confident as the water level at the lake dropped below danger level. Despite the development officials still remained apprehensive. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea on Tuesday cautioned residents and business owners to “maintain situational awareness” with a series of storms forecast for later in the week.
He said that those people who need longer time if the situation return, they should not return now. “People who have special needs or require extended time to evacuate should consider remaining evacuated,” Honea added.
Earlier the officials said they decided the evacuation for residents as the last resort. The California Department of Water Resources warned that the emergency spillway next to the dam was “predicted to fail”. California Fire Incident commander, Kevin Lawson, said officials stood by the decision to evacuate residents, rather than risk thousands of lives. He said if the situation was not dealt with they were looking at “a 30ft wall of water coming out of the lake”.
A senior official for the California department of Water Resources said that oroville dam itself was “sound” and structurally separate from the auxiliary spillway. The dam built on the Feather River, very close to city of Oroville, California, is as high as 770 feet. This makes it the tallest dam in the US. Oroville Dam impounds Lake Oroville, the second largest man-made lake in the state of California, capable of storing more than 3.5 million acre-feet of water.