Some in Oroville Dam Area Stayed Put Despite Evacuation

The streets of Oroville were empty Monday after Sunday's emergency evacuation, but not everybody fled the city when erosion compromised the Oroville Dam emergency spillway and threatened floods.

Some people decided to stay despite the repeated warnings to evacuate. Nearly 190,000 people south of the dam evacuated Sunday. Those who decided to stay weren't merely stubborn.

"Where am I going to go?" said Rory Jensen.

Jensen tried to leave Sunday night but after moving just 8 miles in three hours during the rush out of town, he decided to go back home and take care of a disabled friend.

"And, he said, 'Well if it's gonna wash us away, it's gonna wash us away.' So, he wanted to come back home," Jensen said of his friend.

Sylvia Byers lives two doors down from Jensen's friend on Oroville Dam Boulevard.

"I could have left, but it's a big hassle to. I'm on oxygen," Byers said.

She decided the hassle was greater than the threat, if it meant moving all of the oxygen equipment she needs to treat her emphysema.

Her next-door neighbor couldn't find a hotel room where he could move Byers and her medical equipment. So he, too, decided to stay home and watch over her.

"I couldn't leave her by herself," said Bruce Johnson. "There wasn't really any place to take her to."

Others say they are on high enough ground and feel like they'll be safe even if the worst happens.

"We're up on a hill, so that part is safe," said Amy Davis, adding that her son's apartment is downtown. "We had to rush to get him last night, and it was a little scary."

Davis' son and the rest of the evacuees might not be able to return home until repairs are made to the emergency spillway. Repair work got underway Monday.

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