California dam evacuees allowed to go home
OROVILLE, CALIFORNIA: Californians who were ordered to evacuate due to a threat from the tallest dam in the United States can now return home after state crews working around the clock reinforced a drainage channel that was weakened by heavy rain.
Officials had ordered 188,000 people living downriver from the Oroville Dam to evacuate on Sunday.
The order was reduced to an evacuation warning on Tuesday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said, which means people can move back to their homes and businesses can reopen. But they should be prepared to evacuate again if necessary, Mr Honea told the media.
Evacuees received more good news from US President Donald Trump, who declared an emergency in the state, authorising the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief efforts.
The lifting of the mandatory evacuation improved the mood among evacuees at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, where families packed cars and sifted through piles of donated clothing.
Mr Philip Haar, 37, of Oroville, was preparing to take his five dogs back home. He would also be able to feed the rabbit he had left behind.
He said: "I am confident with the warning - at least we will know the next time something happens, to be prepared more than this time."
But Richard and Anna Lawson, also of Oroville, said they were not rushing home.
Officials had expressed calm last week before abruptly ordering the evacuation on Sunday.
Mr Lawson, 25, said: "They kept contradicting themselves. Every time they said something, they turned around and said something different."
Ms Lawson, 21, said: "We are waiting until tomorrow to hear something. We are going to wait until the storm comes through."
State officials used rocks carried by 40 trucks to reinforce the eroded area around the emergency spillway, while two helicopters dropped rocks and other materials into the breach. - REUTERS