Oroville Dam Evacuees Remain in Limbo, Anxious to Go Home

Nearly 200,000 people were staying somewhere other than their homes Monday because of the Oroville Dam emergency.

One evacuee, Oroville resident Mandy Johnson, was staying with friends in Pleasanton. She didn't wait around for the official evacuation order. When the first spillway opened Thursday, she packed up and got out.

"It's kind of weird now not knowing if it was flooded or not," Johnson said. "It potentially could be already."

Johnson lives 30 feet from the Feather River, just down from the Oroville Dam. When the spillway opened Thursday, things got weird, she said.

"Because there's no control over how much water is now coming into the river, the river can come up," she said. "So I was ready for my place to flood even before they knew the spillway was compromised."

Johnson is staying with friends that she left in September when she moved to Oroville. It's not home, but it's comfortable, she said.

Others from the evacuation zone are living in hotels and emergency shelters. More than 1,000 are staying at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico. The sheer number of people in one place made for some understandable confusion for some, including a woman who couldn't find her sister.

"I talked to all my other family members except her." the woman said. "I think she's not answering the phone. I've been looking everywhere out here for her."

Nancy Davis says the shelter is having trouble keeping up with demand.

"They need more help here," she said. "A lot more help. They got so many people here, it's overwhelming. They run out of food quick."

Meanwhile, Johnson thinks of the less fortunate evacuees.

"There's a lot of people still there who couldn't get out, so I'll be praying for them, and other people should too," she said.

Some evacuees were sleeping in their cars, wishing they had more information on when they can go home, but also saying they know officials are doing the best they can.

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