Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Evacuation Tips from the Oroville Dam Crisis

In the news this week...the Oroville Dam spillway failure (complete timeline here).  With nearly 200,000 people evacuated on the theory that the dam could (best case) create water release problems due to the emergency spillway being damaged or (worst case) the entire dam could completely fail and flood a number of towns downstream, this was a pretty good teachable moment for all of us.

  • Do you live in an area near a dam that could fail?  Threat assessments were a big deal some years back but our infrastructure is still in need of serious repair/rebuilding.  Know what risks are common where you live.
  • Pay attention to warnings.  Whether through reverse 911 calls, door knocking by law enforcement, or evacuation orders given through social media, pay attention to developing conditions via a range of sources (TV news, FB pages, etc).
  • Be prepared to evacuate and do so as soon as possible.  You don't want to be waiting in line for gas, parked on the freeway in the midst of tens of thousands of people all trying to evacuate at the same time, trying to find groceries on store shelves, etc.  Always keep gas in your vehicle and stored on your property, have a BOB ready to go, have multiple places to evacuate to, and stock your vehicle with stored supplies instead of trying to find stuff you need in the stores.
  • Realize you may be on your own and plan accordingly.  It usually takes a while to coordinate a  response and with 200,000 people to take care of, help--ranging from food and water to sleeping accommodations--may take a while to set up. 
Thankfully (so far) the disaster that could have happened didn't.  But each time something like this happens it offers everyone a chance to review what happened, see how people responded, see what worked and what didn't, and offers tips for what to do if you find yourself in such a situation.

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