Crews rush to re­pair dam cen­tral to North­ern Cal­i­for­nia life

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Crews work­ing around the clock atop a crip­pled Cal­i­for­nia dam re­ported progress Tues­day in re­pair­ing the dam­aged spill­way and re­duc­ing the wa­ter level by at least 8 feet at the reservoir that has been cen­tral to this farm­ing re­gion for a half cen­tury.

Heli­copters car­ried gi­ant sand­bags and ce­ment blocks from a stag­ing area on the south side of the Oroville Dam to­ward the stricken spill­way on the north side. Crews op­er­at­ing heavy equip­ment loaded rocks and boul­ders into dump trucks, which car­ried them over the dam and dumped them on dam­aged por­tions.

Work­ers are rush­ing to re­pair the bar­rier at the nation’s tallest dam af­ter author­i­ties or­dered the evac­u­a­tion of nearly 200,000 peo­ple liv­ing be­low the lake amid con­cerns the spill­way could fail and send wa­ter roar­ing down­stream. Evac­u­a­tions re­main in place.

Gov. Jerry Brown asked for di­rect fed­eral as­sis­tance for an es­ti­mated 10,000 dis­placed res­i­dents.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump “was keep­ing a close eye” on the si­t­u­a­tion and “work­ing closely” with state of­fi­cials.

“The si­t­u­a­tion is a text­book ex­am­ple of why we need to pur­sue a ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture pack­age in Congress,” Spicer said at news con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton.

State Department of Wa­ter Re­sources of­fi­cials hope to re­duce the lake level to 860 feet by Thurs­day, when storms are ex­pected to bring more rain, spokesman Chris Or­rock said. The level was 884 feet on Tues­day morn­ing.

The lake that for five decades has brought res­i­dents hol­i­day fire­works and salmon fes­ti­vals now could bring disaster.

“Never in our lives did we think any­thing like this would have hap­pened,” said Bran­nan Ramirez, who has lived in Oroville, a town of about 16,000 peo­ple, for about five years.

The Gold Rush town in the Sierra Ne­vada foothills, some 70 miles north­east of Sacra­mento, is nes­tled near the foot of the dam, which was com­pleted in 1968 and at 770 feet is the nation’s tallest. Houses and churches are perched on tree­lined streets near the Feather River. Old, or­nate Vic­to­rian homes sit along­side smaller bun­ga­lows.

Cities and towns far­ther down the Feather River also are in danger.

AP PHOTO

Evac­uees from city’s sur­round­ing the Oroville Dam line up for din­ner at a shel­ter Mon­day.

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