Gurdwaras within 100 kilometres of Oroville Dam in Northern California in the United States have opened their doors for all residents evacuated from the area following fears of dam collapse and flooding.
Erosion at the spillway on Lake Oroville is still to be plugged and threatens to flood downstream towns of Yuba City, Turlock, Oroville, Fresno and Sacramento. With floodwater expected to reach certain places by Monday evening (Tuesday as per Indian time), the US government ordered evacuation of 1.9 lakh people. A large number of people of Indian origin, particularly Punjabis, reside in these towns.
“We have decided to accommodate as many people evacuated from the flood-affected areas as possible,” said Jaswant Singh, president of the Yuba City Gurdwara, which is a 40-minute drive from the erosion site. He said announcements were made on the local radio and TV for evacuees to reach the gurdwara. “As many as 20 families from Oroville reached here on Sunday night and the gurdwara management is taking care of them. We are serving them morning langar, and are making preparations to deal with any eventuality,” said the gurdwara secretary. Gurdwaras in Turlock, Fresno and Sacramento have also decided to chip in.
Kanwar D Singh from San Ramon, California, said there was no immediate reason to be alarmed, but the situation could worsen. “The coming two days are very crucial,” he said. One lakh cusecs of water is reported to be flowing out of the breach, following unprecedented rains in the area that filled the dam to capacity.
Karmandeep Singh Bains, a peach farmer in Yuba City, said all school, colleges and offices have been closed in the area. “As many 25,000 rescue workers have been put into service, and youngsters associated with gurdwaras in the region are also making preparations to provide all possible help to evacuees, irrespective of their ethnicity,” said Bains.