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Lessons Learned from the Oroville Dam Spillway

The evacuation of 188,000 people downstream of the Oroville dam has raised a great deal of awareness on flash floods and has people thinking about the increasing incidents of natural disasters that are occurring all over the planet.

Recent assessments of the crisis at Oroville suggest there would probably not be enough time to evacuate if the spillway suddenly failed and released a thirty-foot wall of water downstream. Depending on the size of the rupture, nearby residents would only have seconds to minutes to get out.

The decision to issue mandatory evacuation orders is very complex and requires fast mass movement of people and resources. There are many variables to consider – not only to send resources to facilitate, coordinate traffic and set-up shelters – but also resources to prevent looting and robberies during and after the evacuation.

The Department of Water Resources in California were actively monitoring the situation in Oroville throughout the intense precipitation events and reacted quickly to alert and evacuate citizens. The use of the spillway was a carefully considered decision with the rapidly rising water in the lake behind the dam. Coordination of the masses requires mass notification, not only for government, but also for businesses, schools, and local communities to sound the alarm and coordinate people when a crisis situation is anticipated.

For imminent disaster, the government can rapidly notify unlimited numbers of people when action is required with the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), via all channels of communication, including Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), cable TV and radio.

Depending on the type of disaster, detection of a pending threat can be accelerated by empowering citizens and individuals within large organizations with the ability to alert authorities and executives instantaneously from their cell phones. That’s why Regroup offers QuickPost notifications to clients, a fast-tap component of the AlertManager mobile app as part of a versatile and comprehensive mass communication platform.

For a free consultation on how you can apply mass communication to your community or organization, click HERE.

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