The Oroville Spillway Disaster: Why You Should NEVER Wait for the Official Evacuation Order by Daisy Luther
After five years of drought, a new disaster faces Northern California: the imminent collapse of the Oroville Spillway.
Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated last night from areas below the Oroville Dam due to the fear that the main spillway is pending imminent collapse and the emergency spillway is literally, just a cleared hill which showed massive erosion when they tested it with a small amount of water yesterday.
The state has basically gotten all the rain it missed over the past years at once, as three storms called “atmospheric rivers” have unleashed torrential rains that have lasted for days. Another huge rain storm is expected later this week and crews are working frantically around the clock to fix the spillway before more rain falls. This photo shows the damage to the spillway.
But the real lesson here isn’t the faulty infrastructure or the mismanagement of funds.
It is the deception of the public and the way that officials will go to great lengths to cover their butts – even if that means giving a warning to the public that could be too late. This isn’t the first time that the government has completely failed in an emergency response to an imminent disaster, and it won’t be the last.
Officials waited until they believed that the disaster was only 60 minutes away to evacuate nearly 200,000 people.
The week leading up to the crisis
All week, people have raised concerns about the spillways. But the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) told residents there was nothing to worry about.
Here are the updates from their Facebook page from Feb. 7, when the spillway damage was first discovered, until last night, when failure appeared to be imminent and almost 200,000 people were given minutes to evacuate. Emphasis mine. Note that until the very last post, they were assuring everyone that things were fine.
- Feb. 7: DWR halts flows down Oroville Dam spillway. Engineers investigating erosion.
- Feb. 8: DWR engineers and geologists continue to assess the concrete erosion on the Oroville Dam spillway. There is no imminent threat to the dam or public.
- Feb. 8: DWR increases Oroville spillway flows. There is no imminent or expected threat to public safety or the integrity of Oroville Dam.