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Villages of the Dam

February 15, 2017

Homes and businesses beneath Californias Oroville Dam lie abandoned underwater – as its revealed officials were warned about the crumbling structure 12 years ago


Eerie images of drowned buildings and ghost towns have emerged from the area below Californias crumbling Oroville Dam after hundreds of thousands were ordered to evacuate.

And it might have been averted had federal officials and water agencies not ignored warnings 12 years ago that the 49-year-old structure was at risk of collapsing.

It also appears that repairs on the massive dam – which was left falling apart after a surprise burst of heavy rainfall – were not earmarked in Governor Jerry Brown’s $100 billion list of key infrastructure projects this month.

The rainfall that is expected Wednesday could pour into a gaping 250ft chasm in the concrete spillway, causing a collapse and unleashing a 30ft ‘tsunami’ tidal wave that could leave towns along a 40-mile stretch of the Feather River below the dam under 100ft of water. There is currently no end in sight for those evacuated from their homes.

The situation is now so critical that President Trump is being urged to declare a disaster in Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties, where 200,000 people, including Department of Water staff, were frantically ordered to evacuate their homes and places of work on Sunday.

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Evacuation: Almost 200,000 people were ordered to leave the towns downhill of the Oroville Dam on Sunday as heavy rainfall left it at risk of bursting. On Monday it emerged that authorities had ignored warnings about a possible collapse 12 years ago.



Floods: The spillways were not reinforced, and on Monday Riverbend Park was left submerged by the flood water. Officials said the threat had subsided for the moment. However, things could get worse.



Ghost town: The streets of Oroville, which is directly below the dam, stand empty and still on Monday. That same day it emerged that repairs on the dam were not earmarked in California Gov. Jerry Brown’s $100b list of key projects this month.



Gone: Just two vehicles remain in this shopping mall’s parking lot in Oroville, after warnings that the dam might burst. They have been told they may not be able to return until repairs on the dam have been completed.



No-one home: An Oroville street stands empty just two days before expected heavy rain potentially puts the whole down at risk of being drowned under 100ft of water.



Marooned: A home in Oroville is seen marooned on a tiny island after the dam’s spillways released excess water into the area. The dam’s main spillway was damaged by the heavy flow of water after recent storms.



Swamped: This farm was flooded by the overspill from the dam. Protesters demanded 12 years ago that the spillways be reinforced with concrete that would properly funnel the water and reduce risk of flooding such as this.

CONTINUE (More pictures of devastation)

From → World Watch

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