Sutter County voices heard by dam owners and operators from across United States

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The voices of Frank Coats and several other Sutter County residents who spoke at the March 2017 town hall meeting at Veteran’s Hall were heard this morning by about 250 dam owners and operators, and emergency managers, from across the United States. Sutter County Public Information Officer Chuck Smith included several clips from a video recording of the meeting to an audience of about 250 at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s  National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Sutter County and Oroville Dam were the major topic of the second day of a seminar for owners and operators of dams from across the United States this morning.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency invited Sutter County to send a speaker to the National Emergency Training Center in Maryland to describe the events surrounding the Oroville Dam spillway crisis from its perspective of ordering an evacuation.

During the 45-minute Sutter County presentation, the audience heard several clips from a video recording of the Town Hall meeting hosted by Sutter County at Veterans Hall about one month after the evacuation.

The two-day seminar, which ends today, is titled: “Maintaining Public Trust Through Effective Emergency Management.” Part of Smith’s presentation was about what happens when the public’s trust in a dam operation is broken: angry residents, lawsuits, legislation, and an attempt to intervene in the dam’s licensing.

Oroville Dam is the tallest in the United States. The evacuation of 188,000 from Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties was the largest in the United States for any emergency other than a hurricane. The Oroville Dam spillway crisis has become a case study. Recently, emergency managers from Japan visited Yuba-Sutter to learn lessons from our experiences.

Other presentations were made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and emergency managers from other states with a number of dams.