California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday evening requested federal assistance with the Oroville Dam emergency spillway crisis as mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect for about 188,000 residents downstream from the nation's tallest earthen dam.
"I respectfully request that you issue an emergency declaration for direct federal assistance for the counties of Butte, Sutter and Yuba, as a result of the potential failure of the Lake Oroville Dam emergency spillway," Brown said in a letter to President Donald Trump.
Added Brown, "As a result of the potential for catastrophic flooding, approximately 188,000 residents from Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties were forced to immediately evacuate their homes for life and safety. Officials are aggressively attempting to lower Lake Oroville's water levels, as another atmospheric river storm system is scheduled to arrive within 48 hours."
In asking for assistance, the governor said Oroville Dam emergency is "of such severity and magnitude that continued effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments and supplemental federal assistance is necessary to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen the effects of this serious situation."
Also late Monday, workers scrambled to place giant sacks of rocks into portions of the eroded emergency spillway using heavy-lift helicopters. They also planned to use grout in damaged areas of the emergency spillway to prevent further erosion.
State and local officials worked into the night Sunday to evacuate thousands of residents downstream from the dam after a hole in an emergency spillway raised fears of flash floods. Oroville Dam — California's second-largest dam — is located about 70 miles north of Sacramento.