ARES Volunteers Support Evacuation, Shelters, In Oroville, Dam Crisis:
The ARRL Letter
February 16, 2017
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ARES Volunteers Support Evacuation, Shelters, In Wake of Oroville, California, Dam Crisis:
Sacramento Valley ARES
http://www.sacvalleyares.org Section Emergency
Coordinator Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, reported this week that Amateur
Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers actively supported
communication for the evacuation and sheltering of nearly 200,000
people living below the damaged Oroville Dam in rural California. The
dam, on the Feather River east of Oroville, is the tallest in the US.
Following a period of heavy rain, a section of the earthfill-embankment
dam's spillway eroded, and authorities ordered residents living below
the dam to evacuate, in case the dam should fail. Crews have been
attempting to fill the eroded area with rock transported by helicopter.
On February 14, authorities lifted the mandatory evacuation order, but
said it could be re-imposed, if necessary. Residents returning home
were advised to remain vigilant, should the situation again become
critical, and some ARES activity continues.
"Things have really calmed down for now after the mandatory evacuation
notice was reduced to an evacuation warning," Kruckewitt told ARRL on
February 15. "At this time, only the Butte County ARES group is
deployed to the Chico Fairgrounds to support the Red Cross -- possibly
through the weekend." The Chico shelter will remain open until the next
FEMA reported that the Kelly Ridge Powerhouse located below Oroville
Dam is flooded and unsafe. "Any further flooding could result in the
potential release of 500 gallons of turbine oil stored in tanks," the
agency said on February 15.
Butte County ARES EC Dale Anderson, KK6EVX, was called out by the
emergency operations center (EOC) on the evening of February 12. Six
members of the Butte County ARES team have been deployed to the Red
Cross evacuation shelter at the Chico fairgrounds. "ARC still wants us
at the Chico Fairgrounds," Anderson told Kruckewitt on February 15. "We
are down to one VHF unit and one operator on watch for now."
On February 12, Yuba/Sutter ARES EC Steve Sweetman, K6TAZ, opened and
managed a net to provide information and gather reports of road
closures or problems during the evacuation. The net received reports
from radio amateurs who were evacuating. Traffic was reported to be
very heavy, with a trip that would normally take 20 minutes extending
into a "3-hour stop-and-go ordeal," Sweetman said. The net also
gathered and disseminated information on where evacuees could get fuel.
"This became a critical need, as the thousands of people evacuated
their houses with 1-hour notice," Kruckewitt said. Sweetman provided
shelter for 17 evacuees.
The Sacramento County EC Vince Cracchiolo, KI6NHP, was called into the
Sacramento County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on February 13 as
the Red Cross opened a shelter at Cal Expo in Sacramento. Kruckewitt
said the Sacramento Valley Section received offers of help from hams
outside of California. As of February 15, FEMA was reporting 16
shelters open with 2,606 occupants.
"All ARES groups in the section are on standby, if help is needed.
So far, the dam is holding, and repair work is under way at last
report," Kruckewitt said.
According to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR
http://www.water.ca.gov/), evacuation orders were issued to residents
surrounding Lake Oroville late Sunday afternoon. "DWR has been
monitoring conditions at Lake Oroville's main and auxiliary spillways
around the clock for signs of erosion that could threaten the integrity
of the emergency spillway and allow large, uncontrolled flows to the
Feather River," the agency says on its website.
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