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Butte County Sheriff’s Office Releases New Flood Emergency Plan

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OROVILLE -- Law enforcement agencies across Butte County have learned a valuable lesson from the Oroville Dam spillway emergency.

"We have a much better understanding of what could go wrong," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said.

For the first time, Sheriff Honea unveiled an emergency evacuation plan for if what happened last month, ever happens again. Previously they only had an outdated emergency plan for a dam emergency, not a spillway emergency.

This one is much more specific and more sophisticated.

"That's probably as a result of years and years of complacency. That's what happens. When you have a major feature like this in your jurisdiction that's been in place, where there hasn't been a problem, over the course of time, you begin to take it for granted," Sheriff Honea said.

Several agencies teamed up to create the plan, which splits the county south of the spillway in 11 zones. Each zone will have an evacuation route, a location for people without transportation to meet up, and designated evacuation centers.

The Butte County Sheriff's office said the goal of all of this is to avoid the frustration and the panic that happened when they called the first temporary evacuation. On February 12, 188,000 residents were given just one hour to pack and leave.

All they were told was to get to higher ground, and away from Oroville Dam. This new plan looks well beyond that.

"Our goal is to give people 12 to 24 hours of notice," Sheriff Honea said.

In the meantime, an evacuation warning is still in effect, as crews continue to work around the clock. So far, they have moved about 40 percent of erosion debris from the bottom of the spillway. They have also started to patch up the actual hole in the main spillway.

"We are going in and basically grinding out all the joints that are there, and re-calking everything," Department of Water Resources acting director, Bill Croyle said.

The Department of Water Resources plans to reopen the spillway on March 17.

To see exactly what zone you live in, and what you should do in an emergency, go to: