An 188,000-person evacuation order of two days ago in the vicinity of the Lake Oroville dam, where homes and the safety of their occupants in the low-lying parts of Oroville and downstream areas were threatened by the potential collapse or erosion of a spillway, has been lifted. According to a press release from the Butte County Sheriff's Office, the mandatory order was reduced to a "warning," this afternoon, effective at 1 p.m. "All residents are advised to remain vigilant and prepared as conditions can rapidly change," the Sheriff's office nonetheless advised.
As has been discussed widely over the past 48 hours, a lot could still change with the arrival of more rain over the next six days. Water in the lake rose 50 feet last week, in part due to snowmelt in the Sierra, and the spillways could not keep up.
"Residents should be prepared to maintain situational awareness," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea reiterated today according to news station KCRA. "This reduction to an evacuation warning properly balances the need for people to resume their daily lives, while at the same time, being prepared to deal with future increased threats."
As many return home, Honea emphasized the importance of the evacuation. "Thousands of lives were protected from the looming catastrophic failure of the emergency spillway by those who directed and facilitated the rapid and efficient evacuation of thousands of people and animals out of this area," the Sheriff told news media.
According to the Red Cross, their orders are to remain and keep their shelters open. But per the Chronicle, many evacuees weren't exactly waiting around. "We want to shower,” Maria Chica, a resident of Live Oak, told the paper as she prepared to head home. "Everyone was scared this was going to be for a longer time. Seeing that we can go home now and our houses are OK — this is exciting."
Today, lake levels had dropped 15 feet since their peak elevation. Ahead of new storms headed to the region, crews today were looking to shore up the damaged spillway. Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed the crisis during his briefing today, and assures those concerned that the President is "keeping a close eye" on the Oroville Dam situation, and blah blah something about crumbling infrastructure blah blah.