Trump is asked for a major disaster declaration in California
March 19, 2017
• Due to February storms, damage to Oroville Dam spillway
• “Atmospheric river storm systems created conditions more perilous”
President Donald Trump has been asked to make a “Presidential Major Disaster Declaration” to help pay for repairs to the damaged Oroville Dam spillway and to bolster state and local recovery efforts following February storms that caused major flooding, levee breeches, the evacuation of residents, power outages and extensive damage to roads and bridges across California.
“Following a destructive January, the February atmospheric river storm systems created conditions more perilous, causing cascading impacts throughout the state,” says a letter to the president from California Gov. Edmund Gerald Brown Jr. seeking the declaration.
“These systems brought unprecedented precipitation,” Mr. Brown says and goes on to enumerate the weather woes inflicted on the state, part of which include:
• Several forecast points were above flood stage for most of the month of February, including Clear Lake, the Mokelumne River, the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, the Merced River, the Cosumnes River, the Tuolumne River, and the Yolo Bypass.
• Mudslides damaged the Pfeiffer Bridge in Monterey County requiring its closure and isolating hundreds of people in the community of Big Sur. The bridge will remain closed for several months, requiring extensive State assistance including airlifting supplies into the area, staging medical helicopters, and transporting teachers into the area.
• Slope failure and levee breaches along the southern part of Tyler Island located on the Mokelumne River in Sacramento County impacted 44 homes and required the evacuation 115 residents. This also required two barge-mounted cranes to place 100 tons of riprap in order to stop the flooding.
• The Mokelumne River overtopped causing flooding to the town of Wilton in southern Sacramento County necessitating an additional 40 residents to evacuate.
• There was a levee breach and debris basin failure in San Francisquito Creek in Santa Clara County causing six local reservoirs to spill over.
• In San Benito County, there were three levee breaches along Pacheco Creek causing flooding in the northern part of the county.
• By far, the most severe damage from the February storm systems occurred at the Lake Oroville Dam. State water officials had to significantly increase outflow releases in an attempt to decrease the lake's historic water levels.
→ On February 7, the water flowing over the spillway caused the concrete spillway to deteriorate. To lessen the damage, water officials reduced the volume of outflow, and as a result, on
→ February 11, water began flowing over the emergency spillway for the first time in the dam's history. Due to the tremendous volume of water, the ground adjacent to emergency spillway began to rapidly erode.
⇒ On February 12, fearing the emergency spillway would fail, about 180,000 residents of Oroville and communities downstream were ordered evacuated. Ultimately, 23 shelters were opened to accommodate more than 10,000 displaced residents.
• Levees continued overtopping and breaching, and river flooding occurred throughout the state.
• These storms also caused mud and rock debris flows, damaging roadways, and bridges. High winds combined with the rainfall caused widespread power outages, leaving over 110,000 households and businesses without power.
• Eight storm-related fatalities occurred in sevep counties during this period.
• The storms also caused a train derailment and the closure of more than 50 interstate and state highways. • Joint federal-state damage assessments total more than $539 million.
Mr. Brown on Sunday also issued an emergency proclamation adding Contra Costa and Solano counties to the 48 other counties included in his March 7 State of Emergency due to storms in February.
The entreaty to the president follows three other separate Presidential Major Disaster Declaration requests – granted last month and last week – to support the response efforts for the situation at the Oroville Dam, impacts of the early January storm system and impacts of the late January storm system.