A scene of chaos swept Northern California as the country’s tallest dam threatens to collapse and engulf multiple cities in a 100-foot-deep flood.
Nearly 200,000 local residents evacuated as officials implored citizens to seek safety:
All 23,000 members of the California National Guard have been placed on standby in the event of a cataclysmic dam failure.
“I’m just shocked,” said resident Greg Levias who was evacuating with his wife, two sons, and a dog.
Out of panic and desperation, he and his family crammed as much personal belongings into their car and evacuated as quickly as possible.
The situation began when erosion opened up a hole on the Oroville Dam’s spillway, gradually worsening:
spillway at the #orovilledam – erosion was 1st reported 3 days ago, since then it has grown. pic.twitter.com/MNep5CQ9Ni
— CANGJOCOPS (@CANGJ3OPS) February 9, 2017
But matters worsened when, on Sunday afternoon, authorities learned that even the emergency secondary spillway—a backup in case the primary one malfunctions—was also experiencing erosion.
Oroville Dam-area evacuees might not get to return home until spillway is repaired, sheriff says https://t.co/1bEirRWiwz pic.twitter.com/1vfGpt47nR
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) February 13, 2017
Sikh Temples offering food and shelter … open to ALL evacuated people #OrovilleDam #OrovilleSpillway … Please share pic.twitter.com/4O5ZUhl1TH
— Shivpreet Singh (@shivpreetsingh) February 13, 2017
Although the filling of Lake Oroville was a welcomed change from the previous years’ drought, this opposite extreme has posed its own set of complex issues for Californians.