Butte County starts evacuation after fear of Oroville Emergency Spillway failure

By Bethaney Lee


Low-lying Oroville residents were immediately ordered to evacuate their homes at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12 when the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway was in imminent danger of giving way.   


Butte County Sheriff Department posted via Facebook that all low levels of Oroville and areas downstream, were to be evacuated. Referring to the Emergency Spillway (recently renamed the Auxiliary Spillway), the Butte County Sheriff Department posted, “operation of the Auxiliary Spillway has led to severe erosion that could lead to a failure of the structure. Failure of the Auxiliary Spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.”


Naomi Patricia Lee, 83, was in the middle of an interview with this reporter when she got the call at 4:53 p.m. to evacuate her home in Olivehurst. When returning to the phone Lee said, “I’m sorry I have to run. It broke, the dam has broken.”


Sheriff’s office spokesperson Leslie Caqrbah said Marysville, Hallwood, Olivehurst, Plumas Lake, and Wheatland are under evacuation orders.


At 6:11 p.m. Sutter County tweeted the immediate evacuation Live Oak, Yuba City, Nicolaus, and all communities near Feather River Yuba City basin.


Butte County Sheriff Department posted that in response to the damaged spillway, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) “is increasing water releases to 100,000 cubic feet per second. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered.

This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill.”