(UPI) — California Gov. Jerry Brown requested federal assistance from President Donald Trump over the “potential failure” of the Ororville Dam emergency spillway.
“I respectfully request that you issue an emergency declaration for direct federal assistance for the counties of Butte, Sutter and Yuba, as a result of the potential failure of the Lake Oroville Dam emergency spillway,” Brown wrote in a letter to Trump released Monday night.
Officials issued mandatory evacuations for nearly 190,000 people in the three counties Sunday. Those evacuated were sheltered in the neighboring counties of Nevada, Placer Sacramento and Yolo.
Brown said several atmospheric river storm systems struck California during January and February, which generated massive amounts of precipitation that inundated lakes, rivers and streams. Officials discovered a large hole in the Oroville Dam’s main spillway last week. They’re now worried the emergency spillway could also fail as the dam reaches capacity.
“As a result of the potential for catastrophic flooding, approximately 188,000 residents from Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties were forced to immediately evacuate their homes for life and safety. Officials are aggressively attempting to lower Lake Oroville’s water levels, as another atmospheric river storm system is scheduled to arrive within 48 hours,” Brown wrote.
Brown said federal assistance is necessary to “save lives and to protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen the effects of this serious situation.” The California governor requested direct federal assistance while federal, state and local officials investigate damage and what other federal assistance could be required.
Officials are attempting to lower Lake Oroville’s water levels ahead of the atmospheric river storm system set to arrive by Wednesday night, which is expected to bring more rainfall and snow to northern California.
“Once this storm system arrives, Lake Oroville’s water levels will rise, potentially forcing the need to utilize the failing emergency spillway,” Brown added. “This could further erode the ground beneath the emergency spillway and further jeopardize the life and safety of residents of downstream communities.”
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