Dam evacuees head home

Tens of thousands of residents living near California's Oroville Dam are being allowed to return to their homes as emergency repairs continue.

(NBC News) Tens of thousands of families have been cleared to go back home after the threat of a catastrophic flood near California’s Oroville Dam forced evacuations Sunday night.

Repairs to the dam’s damaged spillways are still underway, and those going home have been warned that they could be asked to leave again.

Even miles downstream, watchful eyes are on the water coming from the spillways that eroded to the point of near disaster on Sunday.

“From Oroville Dam to here it takes about ten hours to reach here. The reports I’ve read, if there’s a catastrophic break it might take only four hours so that’s the amount of time we have to get out,” says farmer Tom Schultz.

Helicopters are dropping bags of gravel and boulders to shore up the damaged spillways.

It’s a race against time and weather, but crews watching the forecast say they’re not too concerned.

“The spillway has been stable for four days. That’s important for today and the coming days as we see four storms coming, small storms coming in but really preparing also for the remainder of the wet season,” says California Department of Water Resources Director Bill Coryle.

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