Disaster Deferred: Some Local Rescuers at Oroville Dam Told to Go Home But Be Prepared to Come Back
As locals were fleeing on crowded freeways, thousands of emergency personnel from various agencies and nonprofits prepared to rush into the area to assist with everything from rescue to shelters. But, hundreds of rescuers sent to Oroville were sent back home this morning.
Cal Fire’s Humboldt/Del Norte Unit responded to the call for help. According to a tweet sent out this morning, the unit sent a strike team consisting of “engines, crews, dozer, [a] copter.” We’ve been unable to reach Cal Fire to confirm if this team returned home but we were able to talk to Diana Totten, a Captain with Briceland Fire and with Southern Humboldt Community Technical Rescue.Totten said that she responded to the scene last night at the request of California’s Office of Emergency Services. She said she was told, “I would be managing a group or a division at Oroville Dam.”
When she arrived, she attended an orientation meeting and learned that “during the night a lot of resources were sent for…[For instance,] there were well over a dozen swift water rescue teams,” she said. “There were engine crews and inmate crews.”
Late last night, efforts to drop the water level in the dam, lowered the lake water below the Auxiliary Spillway. As the water level fell below the lip of the spillway, the erosion slowed. A plan to pack the hole with large rocks dropped by helicopters was revealed. Though evacuees weren’t allowed to return home, officials at last night’s conference seemed cautiously hopeful though worried about storms set to roll across the area Wednesday.
Totten said she, along with many others, were thus “sent home but might have to come back” after the coming storm dumps as much as eight inches of rain in the nearby foothills.
At this point, Totten said, many resources have been released to return home. “We’re standing by to see what is going to happen next,” she explained. “Everyone is kind of ready for whatever may happen but we aren’t on an official standby.”
— Cal OES (@Cal_OES) February 13, 2017
Earlier Chapter: Oroville Dam Spillway Failing; Evacuations Ordered