Authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders Tuesday for communities below the Oroville Dam.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced the order had been changed to an evacuation warning after he said the risk of flooding had been reduced.
"We have concluded it is safe to reduce the emergency evacuation order to an evacuation warning," said Honea, who had made the initial call Sunday to evacuate a large swath of three counties below the imperiled dam.
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a temporary ban on flights around the Oroville Dam to allow emergency aircraft to operate safely.
“We implemented temporary flight restrictions that prohibit aircraft operations from the ground up to 4,500 feet altitude within a trapezoidal area around the dam,” said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA in Los Angeles.
The flight restriction includes recreational drones, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The restriction is scheduled to end May 17.
Amid growing frustration among residents forced to evacuate from their homes, Butte County Sheriff's officials said Tuesday "we are actively working on a plan to get in their homes" but did not offer a timetable.
More than 100,000 people were ordered to flee to higher ground Sunday afternoon after the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam developed a hole, prompting fears it could collapse.
Sheriff's officials posted a message on Facebook on Wednesday thanking evacuees for their patience. The message also urged residents to stay vigilant during the crisis.
At a news briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump has been “keeping a close eye” on the Oroville Dam emergency and is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist state officials.
“The situation is a textbook example of why we need to pursue a major infrastructure package in Congress,” Spicer said. “Dams, bridges, roads and all ports around the country have fallen into disrepair. In order to prevent the next disaster, we will pursue the president’s vision for overhaul of our nation's crumbling infrastructure.”
The White House is working closely with Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), whose district includes Oroville and surrounding communities, to help communities affected by the emergency, he said.
More than 2,000 evacuees from the Oroville Dam emergency sought assistance at a community shelters and the Red Cross, according to organizers.
The evacuees got meals and had a place to shower at the Silver Dollar fairgrounds in Chico, according to the American Red Cross of Northeastern California. They received toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and other essential items.
More than 100,000 people were evacuated from communities downstream of Lake Oroville on Sunday night after concerns arose that an emergency spillway could fail.
As work continue to prevent disastrous flooding at Oroville Dam, one big question keeps occurring: How did we get here?
The operators at North America’s tallest dam found themselves in a precarious position, with both spillways used to release water compromised and the reservoir still filled almost to capacity after a winter of record rain and snow. It's a drama that began a week ago and got worse day by day.