Governor Brown Issues Emergency Order to Help Response to Situation at Oroville Dam
UPDATE: Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement today (02/14/17) after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved both recent gubernatorial requests for federal assistance – one to support the response to the situation at Oroville Dam and the other to help with the impacts of January storms:
“I want to thank FEMA for moving quickly to approve our requests. This federal aid will get money and resources where it’s needed most.”
Yesterday, Governor Brown met with emergency response officials and sent a letter to the President and FEMA requesting a Presidential Emergency Declaration for Direct Federal Assistance to support the communities impacted by the situation at the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway. Separately, last Friday, Governor Brown requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for the state to bolster ongoing state and local recovery efforts following January storms that caused additional flooding, mudslides, erosion, power outages and damage to critical infrastructure across California.
On Sunday, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency to bolster the state’s response to the situation in Oroville and support local evacuations. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has also activated the State Operations Center in Mather, California to its highest level and is coordinating with personnel at the Incident Command Post in Oroville, California and with other local, state and federal emergency response officials to address all emergency management needs.
The Oroville Dam in Northern California is filled to capacity by the recent wave of rain storms. Due to the weight of the water as well as the age and condition of the dam, a hole has developed in the auxiliary spillway of the reservoir making it risky to attempt lowering water levels. (The hole was discovered on Sunday 02/12/17, a day after the spillway was used for the first time.)
Without the ability to control water levels the Dam is at risk of overflowing and releasing massive amounts of water from Lake Oroville into the Feather River flooding widespread areas endangering lives and property.
The situation caused Governor Brown to issue immediate evacuation order for flood threatened communities. National Weather Service also urged residents to evacuate. Tens of thousands have been evacuated from towns below the Oroville Dam in Yuba, Butte and Sutter counties. (Some sources put the number at 100,000.) Seven Yuba area Sikh Temples have offered temporary housing to evacuees.
The Governor put the entire 23,000 member strong California National Guard on alert should the feared disaster occur.
As of Monday morning, the threat appears to be less severe. There are plans to fill the hole with rocks which would make the emergency spillway functional – and capable of releasing excess water at a measured rate – again.
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an emergency order on Sunday 02/12/17 to bolster the state’s response to the situation at the Oroville Dam’s auxiliary spillway and support subsequent local evacuations.
“I’ve been in close contact with emergency personnel managing the situation in Oroville throughout the weekend and it’s clear the circumstances are complex and rapidly changing,” said Governor Brown. “I want to thank local and state law enforcement for leading evacuation efforts and doing their part to keep residents safe. The state is directing all necessary personnel and resources to deal with this very serious situation.”
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has activated the State Operations Center in Mather, California to its highest level and is coordinating with personnel at the Incident Command Post in Oroville, California and with other local, state and federal emergency response officials to address all emergency management, evacuation and mutual aid needs.
1. All citizens should heed the advice of emergency officials with regard to this emergency in order to protect their safety.
2. All agencies of the state government utilize and employ state personnel, equipment, and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the State Emergency Plan.
3. As necessary to assist local governments and for the protection of public health and the environment, state agencies shall enter into contracts to arrange for the procurement of materials, goods, and services necessary to quickly remove dangerous debris, repair damaged resources, and restore and protect the impacted watershed. Applicable provisions of the Government Code and the Public Contract Code, including but not limited to travel, advertising, and competitive bidding requirements, are suspended to the extent necessary to address the effects of this flooding.
4. The California National Guard shall mobilize under California Military and Veterans Code section 146 to support disaster response and relief efforts and coordinate with all relevant state agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and all relevant state and local emergency responders and law enforcement within the impacted areas. Pursuant to section 147 of the California Military and Veterans Code, any and all provisions of Division 2 of the Military and Veterans Code or other laws of the State which require advertisement for bids for purchases of supplies or employment of services are suspended to the extent necessary to address the effects of this flooding.
5. In order to expedite response and recovery, Division 13 (commencing with section 21000) of the Public Resources Code and regulations adopted pursuant to that Division are hereby suspended.
6. The Office of Emergency Services shall provide assistance to Butte, Sutter and Yuba Counties, as appropriate, under the authority of the California Disaster Assistance Act, California Government Code section 8680 et seq. and California Code of Regulations, title 19, section 2900 et seq.
I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this proclamation.