The Oroville Dam Crisis Explained

Everything was perfectly normal; until the most alarming and startling order was given by the public safety officials to almost 180,000 people, on February 12th, all residents living around the areas of Orville Dam in northern California were ordered to evacuate their homes and rush towards safe places. The spillway of the 770 feet tall dam had been compromised causing highly intense and a fearsome situation indicating that a 30-foot-tall water wall may pave its way into the city of Orville, causing extreme damage.


Marking global warming as the major cause of this crisis won’t be completely wrong! Intense climate shift, drought, and damaged infrastructure- this catastrophic situation at Oroville dam is a combination of all.


California has long been waiting for rain as it has suffered with long lasting drought. This season, the weather has taken some crazy turns, and California had to suffer a massive rainfalls and snow storms, bringing a bad notion for the Oroville dam.

Being the tallest dam of USA, this is a huge reservoir of water. Surely the dams are very well structured and engineered to tackle overflow/ spillway by releasing the excess water to a nearby river through concrete chute (auxiliary spillway). But unfortunately, in this case a crack/ crater has been observed in the main spillway of the dam. The hole in the spillway was flying off the concrete with intense pressure of water. Thus, making the managers reluctant to release excess water in the main spillway.


As the water level keep on rising, the damage got out of control. The crater which was 250 feet long, 45 feet deep and 180 feet wide on Thursday, had become 500 feet long, 45 feet deep and 300 feet wide in a single day (On Friday, February 17).


The situation become more dangerous when the officials tweeted that auxiliary spillway is not strong enough to hold that much water, while simultaneously more water was pouring in, and ordered evacuation at 4:45 p.m.


With heavy flow of water and damaged infrastructure, there are terrifying chances of the destruction of 30-foot-high concrete wall above the auxiliary spillway, making that high, fully pressurizing wall of water. But the panic was slowed down a bit on Monday, as the dam managers inspected that spillway can manage overflow of water. Monday morning DWR (Department of Water Resources) tweeted that 100,000 cubic feet of water is releasing from the spillway per second.


On Tuesday, DWR has continued the state of emergency in the area. The workers are trying to repair the erosion working day and night. Efforts are being done to continue the outflow of water thus to decrease the water levels in the dam.


New reports are pouring in now stating that the officials were warned back in 2005 about the security concerns of the Oroville dam. But the head of the department has denied of any such reports.


Locations that will suffer the impact include: Oroville, Oroville Dam, Palermo, Thermalito, Gridley, Oroville East, South Oroville, and Wyandotte.


How can You help the Evacuees in this Crisis

Many private organizations are collecting donations, both clothes and cash. To be of a little help in this dreadful and catastrophic situation means a big deal. For any of you who want to pitch in any way possible, here are a few of organizations that you can go in to:


The Salvation Army

Salvation army has always remained a source of generous donations, money, and necessary products at the right time, whenever and wherever needed. Playing the much-needed part, it is accepting cash donations. According to the recent news reports, meal services provided by the salvation army to the Oroville dam evacuees have now been extended to the Nevada county.

They are calling for money donations right now. You can either make online donations at, or call on their contact numbers. For more information, click on the following link,

  • Contact #: 800-725-2769
  • O. Box number: 348000, Sacramento, CA 95834 (Do mention the cause, “Oroville Response”)

East Avenue Church

East Avenue Church is collecting several routinely used items for the evacuees, including cots, inflatable beds, towels, water bottles, toiletries, diapers, flashlights, paper towels, power strips (to charge cell phones and sheets, and pet food.)

The Elks Lodge

The Elk Lodge in Chicago is collecting different types of clothing items for people of all ages. The clothing items include socks, sweats, T-shirts, cots, etc. In addition to that, children’s games, sleeping pads, and air mattresses are also needed. You can also help by giving dog leashes. You can either call on their contact number to pick that stuff from your doorstep, or you can drop it off at the lodge.

Contact #: 343-1431

Nevada County Fairgrounds

Nevada county has opened its doors for the evacuees since 12th February, 4 p.m. It is collecting children’s games, snacks and clothes.

St. James Lutheran Church- Redding

Church is providing a platform to the donors, as the volunteers will take all the goods to the Neighborhood Church in Chico, which is serving as the evacuation center. You can donate blankets, pillows, toiletries, water bottles and clothing items.


Where the Evacuees Can Find Shelter in Nearby places

With the sudden evacuation order, finding a nearby safe place has certainly become a mess for people of Oroville. The evacuees can rush towards following places for shelter,

  • Citrus Heights Community Center (Pets not allowed)

(6300 Fountain Square Dr, Citrus Heights)

  • Alcouffe Center

(9185 Marysville Rd, Oregon House)

  • East Avenue Church (Pets not allowed)
  • Neighborhood Church of Chico (Pets not allowed)

(2801 Notre Dame Blvd.)

  • Elk Lodges
  • Nevada County Fairgrounds

(11228 McCourtney Rd, Grass Valley)

  • Glenn County Fairgrounds (no small animals allowed)

(221 E Yolo St, Orland)

  • Placer County Fairgrounds

(800 All America City Blvd, Roseville)

  • Silver Dollar Fairgrounds (Pets accepted)

(2357 Fair St, Chico)

  • Sutter High School

(2665 Acacia Ave, Sutter)

  • John’s Episcopal Church (only small pets accepted),

(30382 Vía Con Dios, Rancho Santa Margarita)

  • and All Sikh temples situated in Sacramento metropolitan area, see following places
  • 6221 16th Street, Rio Linda
  • 2301 Evergreen Avenue, West Sacramento
  • 7676 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento
  • 8132 Elsie Avenue, Sacramento
  • 7733 Elk Grove Florin Road, Sacramento
  • 1090 Main Street, Roseville

The evacuees are not returning to their homes soon, so it is our job to make amends for their better survival in this dire situation.

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