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Nation’s tallest dam causes thousands to evacuate

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In California February 10, the Oroville Dam had water spilling out and creating a hole 300 feet wide with a million gallons of water rushing out per second.

The dam has two spillways, the primary and the emergency spillway, which both have problems. These spillways are channels that leak out water from the lake to prevent overflow.

The primary spillway was damaged by erosion according to the California Department of Water Resources.

“That hole can’t be fixed at the moment. It’s 250 feet long, 170 feet wide and about 40 to 50 feet deep,” said Bill Croyle, director of the Department of Water Resources. “You don’t throw a little bit of rock in it,” he said.

Of the two, the emergency spillway is the last resort. The emergency spillway is only used if water levels reach 901 feet in elevation. It hasn’t needed to be used in its 48-year history, until this weekend.

As far as the evacuation has gone, over 200 thousand people had to leave their homes and town and move to a safe area.

About 35,000 people from Butte County, 65,000 from Yuba County, 76,000 from Yuba City and 12,000 from Marysville City evacuated, according to California Fire.

Stores closed and shelters opened. Local gas stations were swarmed with cars as residents tried to leave town. Evacuees waited in traffic trying to get out of low-lying areas.

Sean Dennis, a resident from Oroville, said, “It was pretty scary, just because of how fast everything was developing. Me and my wife managed to throw as much stuff as we could into garbage bags, whatever we could find. We got both of our cars loaded down pretty well. We’re not taking any chances.”

Right now the Department of Water Resources is trying to find a way to stop the overflow and to get everyone somewhere to sleep with food to eat while they figure out this unexpected twist.

In Oroville, California, the nation’s tallest dam has overflowed causing a hole 250 feet long, 170 feet wide, and 40 to 50 feet deep. The Department of Water Resources is trying to find a way to fix the hole and get the overflowing water to stop.
“The goal is to get the lake to drop 50 feet. If we can continue to do that, that brings a little bit of calm to what we’re trying to accomplish here,” says Cal Lawson.

 

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Nation’s tallest dam causes thousands to evacuate