Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
YUBA CITY, California – Filipino-American Plen Brion received a mandatory emergency evacuation order at his Pluma Lake home on Sunday afternoon, after the emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam began to erode, threatening to flood communities.
The spillway guards against the dam’s overflow when water levels are high.
On Monday, Brion briefly returned to his home to pick up his medication.
“As you can see from this place the house is not clean the dishes are still in the sink… because we just left because it was an emergency!” Brion said.
Brion and his family have lived in their home for the past decade. He said he never expected something like this could happen.
“Flood insurance wasn’t mandatory anymore because they just upgraded the levees. But right now, the levees are kind of high with water,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Yuba City, Ed Hernandez and his family decided to stay than evacuate from their home Sunday night.
“As a Filipino, I’m used to a flood and I know that during a flood, we can still swim outside the house and I want to experience it in America,” Hernandez said in jest.
“We know that it takes time for the water to come down from the dam,” he said. “My kids would like to go right away, and my eldest son was at the Kings game last night…he was telling me that he would go to Stockton, but his mom told him to come home,” Hernandez added.
The Hernandez family spent the night together watching for updates about the dam.
“We kept seeing the numbers decline as the hours [went on]… so we ended up staying,” said Kenneth Hernandez. “But a lot of our friends, a lot of our neighbors, did go to other cities and evacuated.”
The Oroville Dam, America’s tallest dam, remains intact. Officials say water is no longer flowing over the emergency spillway, and lake levels are continuing to fall.
But evacuations continue, as officials try to make repairs before new storms hit later in the week.