Emergency officials issued evacuation orders for a northern California town Sunday afternoon as a major dam’s emergency spillway gave signs of collapsing.
Nearly 200,000 people were ordered to be evacuated as California authorities try to fix America’s tallest dam that could unleash uncontrollable floods if it fails.
The mandatory order comes after water resource officials deemed the emergency spillway for Lake Oroville close to failure.
The spillway had been put into use for the first time in the Oake Oroville dam’s 48-year history after a hole caused by erosion was found in the dam’s main spillway. Officials say the lake was at full capacity after a wet winter in Northern California.
The Department of Water Resources says they have increased water releases to 100,000 cubic feet per second — the spillway capacity is 210-thousand CFS.
Officials say failure of the structure would result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville into the downstream rivers.
More than 16,000 residents live in Oroville and most are being asked to evacuate south, east, and west of the dam. The dam structure itself is not at risk.
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 13, 2017