February 14, 2017 – Effective at 1:45 p.m. today, the Evacuation Order for the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident has been reduced to an Evacuation Advisory. Any resident displaced by the evacuation may return home at 1:45 p.m.; however all residents are advised to maintain a heightened level of awareness. People who have special needs or require extended time to evacuate should consider remaining evacuated.
An Evacuation Advisory considers the probability that an area will continue to be affected and residents need to remain prepared for an Evacuation Order.
The decision to reduce the Immediate Evacuation Order to an Evacuation Advisory is based on a number of factors. With the rate of release through the primary spillway remaining at 100,000 cfs, over the last two days the lake level has dropped 12 feet below the top of the auxiliary spillway and no longer has water flowing over the top. With the water level reduced, geologists and dam safety engineering specialists from the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers were able to inspect the damage. That inspection revealed that the integrity of the emergency spillway was not compromised by the erosion.
However, to prevent further erosion the DWR has decided to line the front of the spillway with boulders and concrete. That work is expected to be completed tomorrow, ahead of the forecasted stormy weather. This mitigation work will reduce the risk of erosion should the emergency spillway have to be used again. DWR will continue to discharge water through the main spillway in order to lower the reservoir to 850 feet elevation (approximately 50 feet below full).
Yuba and Sutter County Offices of Emergency Services will be evaluating the status of the shelters that are in place and will provide further updates later today on which locations will remain open for the Evacuation Advisory.
Disabled residents in Yuba County shelters who need assistance with transportation home should notify their shelter manager of their transportation needs. Disabled residents in shelters who live in Sutter County and need assistance with transportation home should call 530-822-4988 or 530-822-7556 for para-transport arrangements. Local agencies and medical facilities are determining when patients can be returned to any evacuated medical facilities or care homes.
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Both Sutter and Yuba County Sheriffs and Police Chiefs from Yuba City, Marysville, and Wheatland would like to thank those members of the community who were affected by this evacuation for their cooperation and patience. It was a difficult decision to order the immediate evacuation, but the need to act swiftly in the face of a potentially catastrophic incident was necessary in order to ensure public safety.
When you return home:
* Take all of your personal items and small animals with you when you leave an evacuation center
* Drive carefully, thousands of residents evacuated and will be driving back to their homes
* Residents should stay tuned to local information sources for any changes to the Evacuation Advisory; including Yuba County Office of Emergency Services website and Facebook page, and their information site at www.bepreparedyuba.org; and our Yuba County Sheriff Facebook page and twitter @YubaSheriff and Sutter County Office of Emergency Services website at www.bepreparedsutter.org and Facebook page.
* The Yuba County Emergency Operations Center public phone number is 530-749-7520
* The Sutter County Emergency Operations Center public phone number is 530-822-4988 or 530-749-7556