Sunday, February 26, 2017


Crying, thinking we will never see our home, our beloved farm again,  we drove out our driveway.  But where to go?  What road should we take?  All of us have seen previous horror scenes of clogged freeways.  I would rather take my chances and stay home than spend hours stuck on the freeway.  
We decided we needed to get higher in elevation when the dam broke-that was our 1st priority.  Since we are originally from Nevada City, we knew that would be a good place to head to and our daughter lived in Auburn, another higher elevation place.  I didn't want to drive on the 2 main highways, highway 70 and highway 99 for very long.  So we quickly took highway 70 to the shortcut, Woodruff Road which cut over to Hwy 20 north/east.  
The call from our friend alerting us and then the evacuation notice from the Butte County Sheriff's Office gave us about a 15 minute head start of most people on the roads.  So there wasn't hardly any traffic.  Once we got above the Yuba River bridge, I knew we were safe for the moment of flooding and on to our daughter's house in Auburn.
We arrived at her house and she and the family would come home after being away on a trip shortly thereafter.  I sat on the couch just talking over and over the events, all the information we had seen and heard to that point. We stayed glued to the news.  As the hours passed, we saw the horrible traffic jams where people were stuck on the freeway for hours.  We heard about the horrible people looting; the interviews of the frightened people trying to get gas at gas stations that were running out of fuel.  I felt so sorry for my neighbors, our friends, our farming community, for all of us about what we could loose.
It seemed like semi-organized, frightened chaos.  I was so happy to have a safe, warm and loving family to be with. We waited to hear when/if the dam would break.
But you see, we got the information wrong about the dam breaking.  There was much, much miss-information circulating around for the next few days.  Yes, Butte County, Marsyville and Yuba City were put on immediate evacuation notice, but not for the dam to break exactly, (although there was always the possibility), but for the rising rivers and floodwaters that could happened due to the broken spillway and for the dirt filled emergency spillway that was overflowing and taking tons and tons of topsoil away from the main spillway.  
Pictures of the overflowing dam and broken spillways were seen all over California, all over the USA, even all over the world.
And here we sat, waiting to hear, waiting to know, along with 188,000 other frightened men, women and children.
We kept calling and texting people we knew making sure they were OK.  Inviting them to our daughter's house if they didn't have any place to go.
Three days later, it was said in a news conference that the mandatory evacuation order was lifted, but a compulsory evacuation is still in place due to the flood levels of all waterways.  Do we go, or don't we go home?  Were we supposed to be relieved?  Not really.  Nothing had really changed except the DWR and Emergency Services were trying to get a handle on: 1-reducing the amount of water in the dam; 2-filling in large crater holes created by the emergency spillway errosion; 3-tons of debris had been forced down to the bottom of the spillway from the break in the concrete spillway; 4-more rain coming in another storm bringing in more water to the dam and streams.
I would rather take my chances at home for the flooding rivers than a breaking dam!!!
We threw our little belongs, our dogs back into our van.  Kissed our loving grandkids, daughter and son in law; thanked them and we headed home not knowing what to expect.
How to get home?  What road to take?  We decided to take the same way home except our main Gridley road into our town, E. Gridley Road was closed-flooded.  That meant we would have to go through and around downtown Marysville.  If anyone has ever been through Marysville, you know what a horrible mess it is to get through it even on a good and normal day.  We call it the Bermuda Triangle.  Only two ways into that town and they go around a huge city lake with lots and lots of traffic lights.  It is the main way for trucks to use to get up and down Northern California too.
Amazingly, there were very few people on the roads.  The whole town had been evacuated and I think people were really reluctant to believe the re-population order and still didn't trust that the Oroville Dam wouldn't break.
When we got home, it was such a relief yet oh so strange.  The town was only about 5% populated, no businesses were open.  No restaurants, no grocery stores, nothing.  No traffic, nobody on the road.  It actually, was frightening even more.
After checking on my chickens and the house to make sure it had not be robbed, we decided to re-evaluate what we were going to do or not do.
Our new plan - re-pack the car with better long ranging thoughts this time.  More clothes, water, food, some beloved items; dog food; blankets, flashlights; important paperwork.  We kept the TV on all the time to hear any local news.  We kept our cell phones on our person at all times, including at night in case we received the evacuation order-again, in the middle of the night.
Yes, the night was the worst.  You see, another huge storm was coming with predicted lots of rain and lots of winds.  More troubles for the Oroville Dam and more troubles for homeowners.
Part Three-will this emergency ever end?

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