ARES Volunteers Support Oroville Dam Evacuation

ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, reports that Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers are now actively involved in supporting 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 earthfilled embankment dam’s spillway eroded, and authorities issued an evacuation order for residents living below the dam, in case it should fail. Crews have been attempting to fill the eroded area with rock transported by helicopter.

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 now were deployed a Red Cross evacuation shelter at the Chico fairgrounds. Anderson said shelter managers were discussing the need to establish a radio link with the National Guard. Two VHF radios, one HF radio, and several handhelds were available at the shelter.

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 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 has received offers from hams outside of California offering to help if needed. FEMA reports that 20 shelters are open with 3,680 occupants.

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