Crews race against time to repair Oroville Dam emergency spillway

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The mandatory evacuations remain in place today for 188,000 people living below the Oroville Dam. (KGO-TV)

The mandatory evacuations remain in place today for 188,000 people living below the Oroville Dam. Officials are stressing the dam itself is safe. But the concern is over the dam's emergency spillway is at risk of failing. Crews are still racing to fill a giant hole that opened up.

They hope to drop the lake by 50 feet before rain this week. FEMA has mobilized a 24-hour task force to work with the other agencies. Evacuees are being told to prepare to be out of their homes for days. possibly weeks. Officials say once they know when the evacuation order will be lifted, they will announce a plan for people to return in an orderly manner.

Downtown Oroville is mostly evacuated; all but a few businesses are closed. Local police are among the few cars on the road, checking to make sure that looters don't move in while thousands of residents are away. The business owners are hoping their storefronts stay safe. They lined their doors with sandbags before leaving downtown Oroville. There are several locations in throughout Butte County for people to pick up their sandbags.

RELATED: Water level drops at Oroville Dam, evacuations continue

There is no word yet from the White House on whether it will grant Governor Brown's request for emergency funding. Brown says he is watching the Oroville Dam crisis very closely, and is offering the praise for the people making repairs. He says he has not shown up in Oroville because he does not want second guess those making efforts.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom toured the emergency operations yesterday. He said the emergency in Oroville is a wake-up call -- and warned the Shasta Dam in Redding has similar problems. That reservoir is the largest in California.
VIDEO: Oroville Dam emergency spillway at risk of failing
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Nearly 200,000 people are still under mandatory evacuation orders Monday night over fear the Oroville Dam emergency spillway could fail.



A federal official reveals that the Oroville Dam has been running under a series of temporary licenses for about 10 years. Its old permit, which was good for 50 years, expired in 2007. The State Department of Water Resources applied for a new 50 year permit before the old one expired. The federal agency that approves those permits says it just received all the information it needs this past December. There's no word on why it took so long to gather that information.

Click here for more of ABC7 News' photos, video and stories on the Oroville Dam.
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