Member Stories

Northern California Neighbors Rally Around Evacuees During Dam Crisis

Aerial Photograph of the Oroville Lake, CA
Written by Danielle Styskal

As a winter storm pummeled northern California, hillsides gave way to massive mudslides, roadways flooded – and the Oroville Dam spillway threatened to fail and flood several cities and towns downstream.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for more than 100,000 people in the flood zones, but some neighbors weren’t even aware of the danger until they checked their Nextdoor website and learned of the news from others. At one point, officials were predicting that the spillway would fail with just one hour’s notice to residents.

Neighbors took to Nextdoor to warn others about the evacuation orders and track the steadily-increasing water levels of the dam. They also shared important safety tips, like filling up the car with gas, charging cell phones, and packing a ready bag that included important documents and medications. Some neighbors outside of the flood zone even offered up their homes to friends and family displaced due to the evacuations.

As the water levels swelled, nearly 100 Urgent Alerts were sent by concerned neighbors in the region over the course of three days. But the crisis wasn’t just being discussed in the Oroville area. “Oroville” was the top trending topic across the Nextdoor platform on February 12.

One neighbor, Dennis, who lives in Chico outside of the flood zone, used Nextdoor to rally his community to volunteer to help evacuees. As a volunteer at the local Elks Lodge, he was assisting dozens of people who sought shelter there.

When the mandatory evacuation orders were lifted, Dennis took two young men back to their home in Oroville, where he learned they had nothing – no food, no housewares, nothing. He’s now turning to his neighbors on Nextdoor to gather donations of the essentials that will help get them on their feet.

With more winter storms expected this weekend, neighbors in Oroville are still on high alert in case the dam again approaches its capacity.

Nextdoor’s Vice President of Communications and Policy, Steve Wymer, spoke with FOX Sacramento about how families in Oroville can use Nextdoor to prepare and stay safe in the midst of this crisis. Knowing your neighbors is critical during times of emergency, since your neighbors may be the people best equipped to help you when emergency personnel can’t get to you. Using Nextdoor is a quick and easy way to stay in touch – and hopefully, help everyone stay safe.


Find your neighborhood on Nextdoor here.

Do you have a story about how you’ve used Nextdoor in your neighborhood? Let us know.

Originally reported by FOX Sacramento.

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