Officials have been inspecting the nation’s tallest dam since first night this morning in a desperate effort to stop a devastating 100-foot tsunami from being unleashed, as 200,000 people remain under evacuation orders across California despite water levels dropping over night.
Concerned authorities warned in the worst case scenario a complete structural breakdown at the emergency spillway of Oroville Dam would unleash a torrent of water that would engulf Oroville within an hour.
The ensuing flood from the 770-foot dam would catastrophically put the city of Oroville and several other low-lying communities along the Feather River under 100ft of water.
The potential disaster is the result of massive spikes in water levels as a result of snow and heavy rain after years of drought, and damage to the primary and emergency spillways at the dam. Officials first noticed a massive hole in the dam’s spillway last week.
Donald Trump is yet to comment on the potential disaster.
And amid the frantic evacuations, it emerged overnight federal and state officials and some of California’s largest water agencies rejected concerns 12 years ago about the precarious state the dam – which was built between 1962 and 1968.
This map shows the potential worst case scenario for what could happen if the waters are not controlled and the flood breaks through the dam. It would take about 12 hours for the water to reach Yuba City more than 40 miles away following the path of the Feather River
As a result, the dam’s emergency spillway was called upon and activated for the first time since it was built in 1968, as flood waters rose ever higher.
But shocking, the secondary spillway was also found to be damaged.
In a statement posted on social media on Sunday afternoon, Mr Honea ordered residents to evacuate, repeating three times that it was “NOT a drill”.
The California Department of Water Resources warned that the emergency spillway next to the dam was ‘predicted to fail’.