Latest information in case of two murdered Delphi teens

Officials: Dam water level continues to drop

OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ The Latest on problems with an emergency spillway at the nation’s tallest dam (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

California’s water agency says the Oroville Dam’s water level continues to decrease but it hasn’t said by how much.

Authorities said earlier the reservoir’s water level had been reduced 15 feet by Tuesday afternoon. Officials hope to continue using a damaged main spillway to drain the lake another 37 feet in preparation for coming rain forecast for Wednesday night.

Over the weekend, the swollen lake spilled down the unpaved emergency spillway for nearly 40 hours, leaving it badly eroded. The problem occurred six days after engineers discovered a growing hole in the dam’s main concrete spillway.

The Department of Water Resources says in a statement dozens of construction crews are dropping 1,200 tons of material on the earthen emergency spillway per hour using heavy equipment and helicopters.

It says crews are working around the clock and the area is being continually monitored with the help of drones carrying cameras.

___

5:30 p.m.

The head of California’s water agency says repairs to the damaged concrete spillway at Oroville Dam will cost between $100 million and $200 million.

Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle said Tuesday that teams are already working on plans for repairing the dam’s main spillway.

Croyle says the preliminary cost estimate is based on limited information. He says long-term repairs will likely begin after the spring runoff seaon, when crews can close the floodgates for an extended period without the lake refilling with melting snow.

In the meantime, crews are working aggressively to fortify an adjacent emergency spillway, where erosion threatened to undermine a concrete wall that holds water in the reservoir.

___

5:10 p.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown says the federal government has approved aid to support the rebuilding of the shore of a damaged Northern California dam and help the affected communities.

Brown said Tuesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved two recent aid requests made by his office. Last week, Brown requested a presidential disaster declaration for California to reinforce recovery efforts following January storms that caused flooding, mudslides, power outages and damaged critical infrastructure across the state.

The governor thanked FEMA for moving quickly, saying “the federal aid will get money and resources where it’s needed most.”

Earlier Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump is keeping a “close eye” on the public safety crisis caused by the Oroville Dam.

___

4:10 p.m.

Rod Remocal, who lives in Biggs, west of Lake Oroville, says he and his wife were almost home an hour after officials announced an evacuation ordered had been lifted.

Remocal says they took a long route back and saw police and deputies from across Northern California stationed at every major intersection. The officers were preparing to guide the expected parade of vehicles returning home.

He says traffic was flowing smoothly, in sharp contrast with the chaotic mass flight of thousands of vehicles Sunday night.

Remocal says next time he and his wife will be prepared if the sirens sound again.

On Sunday after a firetruck with loud speaker drove around telling people to flee immediately, the couple left in a rush, grabbing their four dogs, blankets and afew important papers.

___

4 p.m.

A federal lawmaker says silty water could destroy a powerhouse built into the base of Oroville Dam.

Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa said Tuesday that officials fear “all this silty, goopy junk” eroding from nearby damaged spillways will back up into the powerhouse, ruining the turbines and electronics.

The state Department of Water Resources says the Hyatt Power Plant was taken offline last week because of high water pouring over the spillways to lower the depth of Lake Oroville.

Pacific Gas & Electric says there is no effect on its customers.

But running the powerhouse would let state officials release more water from the lake.

Department spokesman Chris Orrock says there’s been no damage. He says crews are using sandbags and dredges to keep water and silt out of the power plant.

___

2:45 p.m.

Hundreds of people at an emergency shelter watched a broadcast as the sheriff said people could return to their homes because the danger from a damaged dam spillway had lessened.

People staying at Neighborhood Church of Chico started packing immediately when Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced the evacuation order was lifted.

Margaret Johnston spent two nights at the church with her two sons. The 69-year-old Oroville resident had packed a few blankets, pillows and clothes into a black garbage bag.

She’s relieved to be able to go home. But she says the mad rush to get out of Oroville was chaotic and confusing, so she’s going to wait a while before driving back.

___

2:35 p.m.

Bill Croyle, the acting director of California’s Department of Water Resources, has listed several reasons he’s confident it is safe for people to return to their homes near a damaged dam spillway.

He says experts have examined the chasm at the foot of the emergency spillway and determined that the concrete slb that holds back water in the reservoir is structurally sound. Likewise, the main spillway has been “stable” for four days.

The forecasts call for a much colder storm than the area experienced last weekend, so much of the precipitation will fall as snow instead of rain. As a result, Croyle expects more water to be released from the reservoir than let in, even during the stormy period.

Croyle also says there’s now enough capacity in the lake for it to absorb an influx of water if necessary. And after days of work to reinforce the drainage area beneath the emergency spillway, Croyle said he wouldn’t be concerned about using it if necessary.

___

2:25 p.m.

Officials say the decision to lift the evacuation order for nearly 200,000 people living below a damaged dam in California has taken into account updated weather forecasts.

A storm later this week is expected to be colder, with less rain. Therefore, not as much water is expected to flow into the reservoir behind Oroville Dam than drenching storms last week.

Strong storms this winter have dropped large amounts of rain on Northern California _ a region on track to have its wettest year ever recorded.

National Weather Service forecasters say the mountains surrounding the Oroville Dam received between 10 and 20 inches of rain late last week.

___

2:05 p.m.

A California sheriff says residents returning home near a damaged dam should be prepared for “the prospect that we will issue another evacuation order.”

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Tuesday that they could tell people to leave again “if the situation changes.” The first signs that the order was lifted came when Caltrans lifted road closures in the area at 11:30 a.m. PST.

___

2 p.m.

A California sheriff says the risks to a damaged spillway at the nation’s tallest dam are significantly reduced because an inspection found no further erosin.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Tuesday that experts found no additional damage to “compromise the overall integrity” of the spillway. He says the lake behind Oroville Dam also is capable of handling additional rain from an expected storm this week.

___

1:55 p.m.

Authorities have lifted an evacuation order for nearly 200,000 California residents who live below a dam with a damaged spillway that threatened to collapse and cause catastrophic flooding.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Tuesday that residents should stay prepared in case the situation changes. He says the water level at the lake behind Oroville Dam, the nation’s tallest, is low enough to accommodate an expected storm.

___

12:50 p.m.

The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office says rain will move through late Wednesday and Thursday morning, with 2 inches to 4 inches in the foothills and mountains. But the storm is looking colder than initially projected, meaning lower snow levels and less runoff into Sierra reservoirs than the storms last week.

The brunt of a Friday storm appears to be headed toward Southern California, with lighter rain in the north. Forecasters say rain will diminish Saturday, pick up on Sunday, followed by a wetter, more dynamic storm Monday into Tuesday.

___

12:40 p.m.

A California dam inspector says authorities may never know the exact causes of the earth and concrete blow-outs below the Lake Oroville dam.

Emergency crews were working Tuesday to fill a hole in the emergency spillway for flood-water from the dam, which is the nation’s tallest. Trouble at Lake Oroville started a week ago when workers noticed torrential rain and snow-melt had torn a hole in the dam’s main spillway.

Eric Holland of the state Department of Water Resources’ dam-safety division says any of a number of different problems could have caused the spillway troubles. Holland says athorities often never discover in these cases what exactly happened, because flood water has washed out everything at the scene.

Authorities have evacuated nearly 200,000 people in three counties while they work to ensure the dam can handle more rain expected later this week.

___

12:30 p.m.

A little boy turning 3 years old at a California evacuation shelter almost didn’t get a birthday party this year.

With just three hours left on his big day Monday, a group of California Highway Patrol officers showed up with a makeshift celebration at the Chico shelter. They brought him an ice cream cake, a balloon, a Captain America figurine, and of course, a song.

A Facebook Live video of the touching moment has gotten more than 40,000 views in just 12 hours and nearly 900 shares and counting.

CHP Officer Logan Callahan says he learned of the boy’s birthday earlier in the day from the boy’s father, who expressed disappointment in not being able to make his son a cake.

A father of a boy the same age, Callahan says he just had to do something.

Mike Wrobel, an area man who took the video, says other evacuees joined in the song and everyone was “grinning ear to ear.”

___

12:05 p.m.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is keeping a “close eye” on the public safety crisis caused by a damaged Northern California dam.

Some 200,000 residents have been ordered evacuated after officials feared a spillway at the country’s tallest dam was in danger of imminent failure. Water levels in the lake behind Oroville Dam have since receded, lessening the danger of catastrophic flooding downstream. But the evacuation order remains in place.

Spicer said at a Washington press conference that the president is in contact with state officials and working with federal disaster relief agencies.

Spicer said it’s an example of why Congress needs to pass major nfrastructure upgrades for the country.

___

10:30 a.m.

Dozens of schools in evacuation areas below a damaged dam are closed, many for the week.

Nearly 200,000 people who evacuated over fears that a spillway at Lake Oroville could fail and unleash a wall of water have to stay away indefinitely while officials race to repair it before more rains arrive Thursday.

Other school officials say they will keep facilities closed until authorities tell them the area is safe.

Schools in the Wheatland Union High School District, Plumas Lake Elementary School District, Yuba City and Live Oak unified school districts and Browns Elementary School District are closed.

The Marysville Joint Unified School District said Tuesday that it would close schools for the rest of the week. A dozen school districts in Butte County also are closed for the week.

___

10:15 a.m.

Police say at least a handful of homes and businesses have been burglarized following an evacuation order Sunday over fears that a damaged spillway at Lake Oroville could fail.

Nearly 200,000 people who evacuated Sunday have to stay away indefinitely while officials race to repair the spillway before more rains arrive Thursday.

The Oroville Mercury Register reports (http://bit.ly/2kGTXzt ) that Lt. Gil Zarate says officers are beefing up patrols to dissuade crime amid empty homes and businesses. Police have made one arrest for burglary at a liquor store.

___

8:15 a.m.

The Department of Water Resources will hold a news conference at noon to discuss progress made on repairing the damaged spillway.

Nearly 200,000 people, who evacuated Sunday over fears that a damaged spillway at Lake Oroville could fail and unleash a wall of water, have to stay away indefinitely while officials race to repair it before more rains arrive Thursday.

Crews working around the clock atop the crippled dam hve made progress repairing the spillway.

Workers are hoisting giant white bags filled with rocks, and at least two helicopters will fly them to where they will be released in the spillway’s erosion. Dump trucks full of boulders also are dumping their cargo on the damaged spillway.

State Department of Water Resources spokesman Chris Orrock says lake levels are dropping at a rate of 8 feet per day.

___

7:40 a.m.

Crews working around the clock atop the crippled Oroville Dam have made progress repairing the damaged spillway.

Workers are hoisting giant white bags filled with rocks, and at least two helicopters will fly them and then release them in the spillway’s erosion. Dump trucks full of boulders also are dumping their cargo on the damaged spillway.

State Department of Water Resources spokesman Chris Orrock says lake levels are also dropping at a rate of 8 feet per day.

The goal is to see the level at 860 feet by Thursday when inflows should begin from the expected storms. Orrock says the lake is currently at 884 feet.

The barrier at the nation’s tallest dam is being repaired after authorities ordered the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people for everyone living below the lake amid concerns the spillway could fail and send water roaring downstream.

___

3:30 a.m.

A huge Northern California reservoir, held in place by a massive dam, has always been central to the life of the towns around it.

Now the lake that has brought them holiday fireworks and salmon festivals could bring disaster.

Nearly 200,000 people, who evacuated Sunday over fears that a damaged spillway at Lake Oroville could fail and unleash a wall of water, have to stay away indefinitely while officials race to repair it before more rains arrive Thursday.

Evacuees felt strange on Monday to see their beloved lake associated with urgent voices on the national news.