Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Note to POTUS: Sikh/Americans step up to help Oroville dam evacuees

Office of Emergency Services
Lake Oroville water continues to thunder down its damaged spillway in attempt to lower the lake level.
SIKH TEMPLES opened their doors to evacuees from the communities downstream from the Lake Oroville Dam. Temple members volunteered to cook vegetarian meals and give comfort to some of the nearly 200,000 residents who had to flee their homes last Sunday.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted: "Sikh Temples in Sacramento region are open for people evacuated around #OrovilleDam. Am told they have food ready & all in need are welcome." 

Yuba City and the surrounding area is also home to about 20,000 Indian/Americans, who were among the evacuees. The agriculture-centered Yuba City has an estimated population of about 13 percent Punjabi/Americans. Almost immediately after the evacuation order was given, nearby gurdwaras (Sikh temples) that situated outside the potential flood zone began organizing to assist evacuees.

If the dam were to burst or overflow due to the historic amount of rainfall and the melting snowcap, three downstream counties - Yuba, Butte and Yuba - including Yuba City, would likely be flooded.

Fortunately, state officials announced Tuesday that it was safe for the evacuees to return to their homes. The mandatory evacuation order was lifted and reduced to an "evacuation warning" meaning that residents should still be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.

“Any resident displaced by the evacuation may return home at 1:00 pm; however all residents are advised to remain vigilant and prepared as conditions can rapidly change. People who have special needs or require extended time to evacuate should consider remaining evacuated,” said the announcement, issued by Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.

Several days of dry weather has allowed the lake levels to be lowered as water continues to thunder down the spillway into the Feather River at the astounding rate of 100,000 cubic feet a second.Ominously, more rain is expected to sweep through the Sacramento area later this week and last into the weekend, adding water to the area’s already swollen streams and rivers.

Evacuation of the area was ordered last Sunday and will probably in place for at least another week. Several days of dry weather has allowed officials to reduce the level of Lake Oroville but the spillway and the emergency spillway have been damaged by erosion.

According to the India Times, Jaswant Singh Bains, president of Yuba City Gurdwara (Sikh temple) said that the evacuation announcement was made around 6.30 a.m. on Sunday when huge number of devotees was present in the gurdwara to pay obeisance on sangrand (the first day of each month according to the Indian solar calendar).

“The sudden announcement created a panic amongst the devotees. We quickly wrapped up the programme and asked them to return to their homes,” Bains said.

Gurdwaras in nearby Sacramento, Calif., began food and shelter to all the residents from the three county evacuation area.

“Sikh temples in Sacramento offering Food & Shelter. They are open for ALL people evacuated from Yuba City #OrovilleDam #OrovilleSpillway,” tweeted social activist, Harjinder S Kukreja.

Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn sent out this tweet.
Dr. Gurtej S. Cheema at Sacramento's Capital Sikh Center told the Huffington Post that the gurdwara is offering meals and accommodation for up to 50 people, thanks to members who delivered bedding items and helped evacuees settle in with hot tea and meals.

"We're well prepared," Cheema said. "We're glad we can help and are available."

Security guards, teachers, farmers and other members of the Central Valley's large Sikh community poured into the two-story Gurdwara Sahib Sikh temple in West Sacramento late Sunday while fleeing potential flooding along the Highway 70 corridor south of Oroville.

"More than 200 evacuees received toiletries, bedding and tasty vegetarian meals served by the temple's staff of 19, who worked through the night to house everybody, temple manager Ranjeet Singh was quoted by the Sacramento Bee.
The Sacramento Sikh Temple in Rio Linda reported taking in 50 to 60 families fleeing the flood zone, it reported. "We have all races – black, white, Asian and Hispanic. There is no tobacco or alcohol, and all our meals are vegetarian," said spokesman Darshan Singh Mundy.
County and state agencies have set up emergency shelters in nearby cities and schools remained closed while the evacuation order remains in effect. 

Everyone should download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on their mobile device, including emergency weather alerts, safety information and open shelter locations. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

The dry weather allowed engineers to inspect the spillways after they determined that they are still usable with the placement of large boulders to reduce further erosion.

Sikh festivals attest to the deep roots of the Punjabi/American community in the California farming community.