Governor Jerry Brown issued an emergency order Sunday evening to strengthen California’s response to a potential catastrophic collapse of the Oroville Dam’s auxiliary spillway, and to garner increased support from law enforcement to help with local evacuations.
The emergency order extends to Butte, Sutte and Yuba Counties.
“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.” Brown said, according to a press release sent by his office.
“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 region affected by the Oroville Dam spillway leak has 200,000 residents.
The orders requires state agencies to “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.” It also invokes California Military and Veterans Code sections 146 and 147, and calls on the California National Guard to mobilize “to support disaster response and relief efforts with all relevant state agencies.”
U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), who represents California’s first congressional district, told Breitbart News Sunday that authorities suggested the structural integrity of the spillway was not sound and that its potential failure could be the result of a collapse at its center.
According to the press release, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has activated the State Operations Center in Mather, California to its highest level.
Last night, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services officials hosted a press conference with members from the California Highway Patrol, California National Guard, California Department of Water Resources and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to discuss developments.
Meanwhile, political fights broke out over social media and questions loomed within the media itself as to whether the spillway’s collapse was to be blamed on those at the federal or state level.
There here have been records of issues with the dam in the past. These issues stem as far back as 2005, which was pointed out by a report in the San Jose Mercury News, which blames both the state and feds for ignoring these issues.
“Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside,” the Mercury News wrote.
During an off-camera briefing at the Pentagon Monday morning, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said: “We are watching that situation very carefully. The dam as you know is failing and evacuation orders have been given to close to 200,000 people in the area.”
Davis said the Pentagon is in touch with the California National Guard through the federal National Guard Bureau in addition to FEMA Region 9, through the commander of the United States Northcom. He stated that the entire California National Guard — which consists of 23,000 service members — is on alert.
Davis added that “while the State first and foremost has the responsibility for doing that, there’s a federal element should they need it that’s ready to respond quickly if asked.”
Kristina Wong contributed to this report.
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