OROVILLE, Calif. – An evacuation order that forced nearly 200,000 California residents to flee from a damaged spillway remains in effect, as officials hurriedly try to finish the repairs to the tallest dam in the United States before a storm hits Wednesday night.
Around 188,000 residents fled the area Sunday night, out of fear that water from Lake Oroville would collapse the spillway and flood an area that is comparable to the size of Connecticut. The concrete portion of the spillway is sound, officials say. It is the natural spillway to the side – made of dirt – that is in danger.
The spillway is used to release surplus water from behind the 770-food Oroville Dam during emergencies. Torrential rains and heavy snows from the past few weeks damaged the spillway.
The lake behind the dam has fallen 13 feet since Sunday, but the Weather Channel says there is a 100 percent chance of rain Wednesday night, with totals of over an inch possible.
The dam was built to capture and store runoff from the mountains in 1968. The body of water it created, Oroville Lake, is the second largest reservoir in the state of California.