The Oroville Dam, a 770-foot-tall man-made structure that resides 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, California, has been deemed unsafe due to its failing spillway.
As a result, authorities began evacuating around 188,000 people Sunday evening near the region of Lake Oroville. Evacuation attempts away from the U.S.’s tallest dam caused massive traffic buildups for over five hours.
“The police came and told us to evacuate,” said Kaysi Levias, a resident evacuating from the area told Fox News. “Not giving us more warning. We’ve never been through this before. We have two boys and our dog. All the stuff we could fit in the trunk — clothes and blankets.”
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Levias’ accompanying husband, Greg, also commented: “I’m just shocked. Pretty mad.”
Engineers at the dam initially found a decaying hole near the top sector of the spillway. If this hole continues to wear thin, there could be a discharge of large, uncontrolled flows of water from Lake Oroville that would cause mass flooding.
According to the California Department of Water Resources, the effects of waterways, channels, and levees being over-flooded could be catastrophic.
Cities included in the evacuation order are Oroville, Gridley, Live Oak, Marysville, Wheatland, Yuba City, Plumas Lake, and Olivehurst.
On Sunday night, water levels overflowing the dam began to recede, with Butte County Sheriff Koney Honea confirming the erosion on the emergency spillway was not advancing as fast as they initially theorized:
“Unfortunately they couldn’t advise me or tell me specifically how much time that would take so we had to make the very difficult and critical decision to initiate the evacuation of the Orville area and all locations south of that. We needed to get people moving quickly to save lives if the worst case scenario came into fruition.”
More details in videos below:
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