by Pamela Williams
I have often wondered what it would be like to lose everything. I have been fortunate in my life to have never experienced a flood or a fire, but I do know what loss feels like. It seems even when loss occurs, if one has the refuge of home to cling to, one seems to bounce back faster. Home is our lookout tower on the world, and in losing our home we lose our vision. Have you ever noticed a homeless person seems to always look downward? They have no home; therefore, they lack direction on their path forward. How cruel it is to be without a home…how hopeless the homeless must feel.
If one had the power to prevent homelessness in this world, can you imagine what a wonderful gift that would be to humanity? Some do have that power, but if they fail to care about the fate of others, it means nothing, falling on deaf ears and blind eyes…more than that unrecognizable to the Godless. Some are asking who bears the responsibility of the failures of Oroville Dam. We have answers to our questions, but lets look first at those returning to their flood drenched home, to their contaminated belongings, and to the horror in before their eyes.
What remains after more than 2 feet of water soaks into mattresses and dressers, refrigerators and floors? Brown muck so slimy, volunteers hauling out sofas and dressers and bags of sopping wet clothing were warned to walk flat-footed so as not to slip. While this low-lying neighborhood may have been destined to flood when the rain-soaked Anderson Reservoir spilled over its dam, the city of San Jose is coming under scrutiny for not evacuating the neighborhood before residents were knee-deep in water.
Some officials failed to act until people were scurrying to flee their homes without any notice. They had no time to get anything packed, but did grab their pets…thank God for that, as pets are a vital life force for humanity. Whether they realize it now, they can make a home from scratch with their family, pets, and the kindness of strangers. Praise God for the Red Cross and other charities. We must stress the kindness of strangers in this world of a failing humanity, as those strangers represent the best in us.
Nguyen and his family had spent all Sunday in a daze, discarding by the armload his soaked, muddy possessions, when a helpful volunteer held up a waterlogged, red photo album, as thick as an old phone book. “Do you want it?” volunteer Alan Supan asked. “Toss it,” answered a relative helping Nguyen discard his hopelessly damaged possessions. In this Rock Springs neighborhood of apartments and immigrants along Coyote Creek that flooded knee-deep last Tuesday, people who lost everything were coming to terms with what that really means. “What am I going to do?,” said Nguyen, who is in his 70s. “I have nothing left.”
Another neighbor had a different perspective on her loss. “Everything is gone with the water. It’s a total loss,” Nguyen said Sunday afternoon, wearing black boots and gloves she borrowed from the Red Cross evacuation center at James Lick High School, where she has been living since Tuesday night. With winter break over and classes resuming Monday, she and other evacuees were being relocated Sunday night to Seven Trees community center. She says, “Possessions can be replaced.” But she’s worried about her drenched paperwork, including her passport and documents from when she worked at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. At her age, she said, she’s doesn’t need much anymore. “I would like to have a safe place to live to the end of my life,” she said. “That’s all I need, a safe place.”
CAN ANYONE BE BLAMED?
More than a week has passed since the Oroville Dam crisis began and 188,000 people from mostly impoverished towns and cities in Northern California were forced to evacuate. Since then, more information has been revealed detailing the depth of the government’s knowledge regarding the improper and unsafe construction of the dam’s spillways.
However, another storm began Sunday night and is expected to bring as much as 5 inches of rain by Tuesday. California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) stated it had lowered the water level in Lake Oroville to 852 feet from 901 feet last week at the height of the crisis. This will supposedly allow the lake to deal with the additional precipitation and runoff. DWR spokesman Chris Orrock stated they were expecting only a 5-foot increase in the water level.
California state officials are currently engaged in a campaign to cover up the criminal and conscious neglect over dam safety. While top officials like DWR acting director Bill Croyle, who stated on February 13 that “I’m not sure anything went wrong [with the emergency spillway],” remain at their positions, five workers from Syblon Reid, a contracting company, were fired after posting images of the Oroville Dam spillway to social media, exposing the danger publically. The DWR hired the company to work on the dam. The agency is also seeking to slander workers, claiming they see a large turnover in general due to failed drug tests or that some are unqualified.
On February 11, the day before the evacuation order was given, Croyle stood before the media and claimed that the emergency spillway was “solid rock.” This turned out to be false. While the top of the emergency spillway is concrete, the base is unpaved. After a hole was discovered in the primary spillway, the secondary one was put into use. Handling less than 5 percent the amount of water it was supposedly designed to release, the base of the spillway began to erode, threatening to collapse the structure and bring down a 30-foot wall of water on nearby towns.
While it became clear almost immediately that the DWR and federal government had been warned in the past that the Oroville Dam was unsafe, the extent of the warnings demonstrates the truly criminal character behind that neglect.
The way I understand it, the mainstream news media has very little up to date coverage at this time, and TV has covered the tragedy only in small amounts. Thus, they are scurrying at this time to do a major coverup. However, those in Alternative Media are on it and will continue to cover the story.
There have been citizens groups who have gone to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to request the dam and its spillways be brought up to code. They referred to a 2002 memo from the Yuba County Water Agency stating use of the emergency spillway would cause extensive erosion. However, the DWR claimed in 2006 that it had “recently reviewed the geologic conditions at the emergency spillway and concluded that the spillway is a safe and stable structure founded on solid bedrock that will not erode.”
However, it has been reported by geologists that the dam is built upon colluvial deposits, which means trees and other organic materials are underneath the concrete. It sounds like the foundation was not shored up in a proper manner. I have seen this before in projects in my own area; in fact, I have been involved in a lawsuit against a contractor, who did the same thing in the building of a structure. In a case such as this, in time the organic material under the foundation of the structure will shift and erode. There is no excuse for this kind of dereliction of duty!
report date 2-20-2017
Recap & Update on the Oroville Dam situation in Oroville California. People are being fired for release photos of onsite damage, total media blackout with National Guard on standby.