As a long-serving member of the California Emergency Management Agency’s Business and Utility Operations Center (BUOC) — an association of private, public and nonprofit organizations established to address large-scale emergencies in California — Direct Relief is being called to channel private resources to local health centers affected by the Oroville dam crisis.
While mandatory evacuation orders are lifted for the Oroville area, officials caution residents to be ready to evacuate again at a moment’s notice.
Since the crisis emerged on Sunday, Direct Relief has maintained regular communications with local health facilities and is continuing to coordinate its response with emergency officials at the State and county level.
As the only nonprofit licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states, Direct Relief is acutely sensitive to the health crises that can arise in mass evacuations.
In such situations, people often leave their medications behind or find that evacuation centers lack the cold storage to keep medications like insulin at the required temperature. As a result, people with chronic health conditions – primarily diabetes, asthma and hypertension – are at particular risk.
Direct Relief will be closely monitoring the situation in the coming days and is prepared to respond in the event it escalates.
Authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders Tuesday for communities below the Oroville Dam. At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced the order had been changed to an evacuation warning after he said the risk of flooding had been reduced.
“That is a national concern for us,” said Lori Spragens, the executive director of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. “Most dams are almost 50 years old. Many of them are very behind in their rehabilitation and they need to be upgraded to current standards. It’s the lack of money.