Oroville Dam break causes chaos


California Department of Water R

The Oroville Dam spillway is overflowing.

Will Sieracki, Reporter

Last Sunday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated all over northern California after a spillway broke at the Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the United States. A broken spillway meant that water from Lake Oroville would flow uncontrollably, potentially causing a wall of water almost 30 feet high to be sent downstream, causing an incredible amount of damage to nearby towns and cities. The spillway is currently being worked on in an attempt to fix the hole in the dam. The people that were evacuated are still in shelters, with no knowledge of when they’ll be able to return to their homes.


     California State Senator Anthony Cannella said “the state of California is excellent at reacting. “We’re just not very good at being proactive. At some point, we’ve got to start spending some money on these things.”


     A 42 year old man named Javier Santiago fled with his wife, two kids, and a couple of friends to the Oroville Dam Visitors Center, a public park above the dam. Santiago and his family have been sleeping in a car for several days with nothing but a small amount of food, blankets, and pillows.
     There has been an ongoing flash flood warning for about a week, schools are closed indefinitely, and it seems like it’s only going to get worse. There are four more storms that are due to hit Oroville, which will test the broken spillway even more than it already is. The emergency spillway that is set up is almost overflowing, and when it does, it will collapse and even more water will be released. California Governor Jerry Brown has issued a state of emergency and President Trump has issued a presidential disaster declaration. The President also approved the state’s emergency aid request, which will help rebuild the communities affected by the disaster.