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Oroville Dam: California requests federal aid, FEMA joins in on evacuee management




Timothy Henggeler, Logistics Specialist with FEMA speaks with New York guard members at Republic Airport in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in Farmingdale, New York. The storm has claimed at least a few dozen lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the situation a
Timothy Henggeler, Logistics Specialist with FEMA speaks with New York guard members at Republic Airport in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in Farmingdale, New York. The storm has claimed at least a few dozen lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the situation a "major disaster" for large areas of the U.S. east coast, including New York City.
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While the work continues to prevent a catastrophic flood at the Oroville Dam, nearly 200,000 Californians remain evacuated. 

On Sunday, engineers realized the sudden rush of water following the last rain storms had caused erosion in the dam's emergency spillway. The threat of a potential flood of disastrous proportions sparked a sudden and widespread evacuation.

But providing for those evacuees– many of whom had little time to grab the essentials– is a challenge. 

FEMA is now on the ground working with the American Red Cross and state and local authorities. And Governor Brown has asked for federal assistance. 

To find out how the needs of the evacuees are being managed, Take Two's A Martinez checked in with Brad Alexander of the California's Office of Emergency Services. 

Meeting the needs of evacuees

You've got a lot of different kinds of populations. A lot of people with different kinds of concerns. People with small animals. People with large animals. And each one of those is a difficult thing to manage when you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of folks that don't have a place to go to otherwise. Then you've also got medical sensitivities. People with various medical conditions that need to be cared for on a regular basis. People that need medications at specific times or it could cause side effects. And people who need medical care are being attended to in the various shelters around the area. 

They [FEMA] are helping us right now with getting commodities into the area like cots, water, blankets, MRE's in those shelters.

We are still making sure that we have not missed a person or a population out there, access and functional needs are being addressed, folks who need wheelchairs that evacuated without one, folks who need a special kind of shower to be accommodated, and folks who need medication, they're seeing doctors in the the shelters. 

Planning to get evacuees back home

From the police departments to the sheriff's departments and to the California Highway Patrol– they coordinate on how that traffic as well as the repopulation process is going to happen. It could be street by street or it could be neighborhood by neighborhood. It's going to be their call. 

Awaiting federal assistance

We haven't been waiting for a response as far as getting more aid into this area. It's a 24/7 operation not only at the spillway.... We are also working hand-in-hand with the American Red Cross, the National Guard, Department of Public Health, Social Services to make sure the needs are being met. 

Quotes edited for clarity

To hear the full interview, click on the blue Media Player above.