Published: Чт, Февраля 16, 2017
Technology | By Ramiro Moody

Californians Forced to Evacuate as Spillway at Tallest US Dam Threatens Collapse

Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea said at an earlier news briefing that experts assert the hole forming in the spillway could compromise the structure.

Weeks of heavy rain had left Lake Oroville - the second largest reservoir in California - almost full, leaving rural communities along the Feather river in danger.

The emergency spillway, which is an embankment covered with trees, is a last resort and was used for the first time in history on Saturday when the lake topped 901 feet, its capacity, and a light flow of water washed into the spillway.

The combination of relatively low inflows, no major anticipated storms and snow levels dropping from 6,000 feet to 4,000 feet over the next couple of days, that will allow water managers to retain the water storage area at the reservoir. Over five hours later, hundreds of cars carrying panicked and angry people were sitting in gridlocked traffic.

"That's gone. I'll tell you right now that's gone". I'm anxious about the flooding. "I've seen the pictures - that's a lot of water". Evacuation centers were opened for the people leaving the area.

The shelter ran out of blankets and cots, and a tractor-trailer with 1,000 more cots was stuck in the gridlock of traffic fleeing the potential flooding on Sunday night, Red Cross shelter manager Pam Deditch said.

There has been no indication from federal or local authorities about which companies could be involved in Oroville Dam's fix, but it will certainly be a major project.

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Some people had just a few minutes to prepare to evacuate, in what one Oroville resident described as "pure chaos".

Water levels in Lake Oroville dipped overnight, stopping the flow of excess water into the damaged spillway, that were in danger of crumbling, flooding downstream areas.

Authorities this evening have issued evacuation orders in communities near Lake Oroville due to worries that a spillway could fail, sending a surge of uncontrolled water down the Feather River. All 23,000 soldiers in the California National Guard have been notified that they should be ready to deploy if needed.

More than 180,000 people in northern California have been told to evacuate their homes after an overflow channel at the tallest dam in the U.S. was weakened by heavy rainfall.

Department of Water Resources spokesman Kevin Dossey told the Sacramento Bee the emergency spillway was rated to handle 250,000 cubic feet per second, but it began to show weakness Sunday at a small fraction of that.

Several hours later the situation appeared less dire as the spillway remained standing and the Water Resources department said crews using helicopters would drop rocks to fill a gouge in the spillway. Not the lake draining but a 30-foot wall of water.

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