California Dam: Latest updates on the potential Lake Oroville dam failure

"People know the dam survived the natural disaster", said Mackay Mayor Wayne Olson.

The sheriff of Butte County, Kory Honea, reminded residents that while the risk level was reduced to let people back into the area, "this is still an emergency situation".

That's why Azevedo wasn't budging yet. And talk of evacuation plans.

"I'm not trying to risk traffic, being stuck in floods. I'm not hanging out here for long", he said.

Heavy rains this year overwhelmed Oroville, pushing the dam to capacity, and sparking concerns from environmentalists and reporters that global warming would bring more extreme rains that could damage infrastructure. As she packed the blankets, pillows and clothing she had hastily thrown into a black garbage bag, she reflected on the mad rush to leave, the chaos, confusion and bottleneck traffic on the drive out.

"It was just frustrating".

Erosion to the auxiliary spillway led to fears about downstream floods, triggering an evacuation of almost 200,000 residents Sunday. Evacuations remain in place for residents downriver. Had workers caught the main spillway problems during the dam's last inspection in July 2015, this may have been averted.

Yesterday, Governor Brown met with emergency response officials and sent a letter to the President and FEMA requesting a Presidential Emergency Declaration for Direct Federal Assistance to support the communities impacted by the situation at the Oroville Dam's emergency spillway.

But first, the spillways have to handle inflows from a series of upcoming storms.

"If that had happened we would have had an uncontrolled release of water into the downstream area", said Chris Orrock, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources, which owns Oroville Dam. We can talk to our incident commanders and our job directors, and say, 'you know, what is the most appropriate course of action and what resources do we have that are available?' Muse said. The dam came within one foot of overflowing in 1997, and three environmental groups unsuccessfully attempted to force the federal government in 2005 to reinforce the emergency spillway with concrete, instead of the "earthen hillside" that is receiving round-the-clock attention to keep from failing.

State officials say the Lake Oroville water level was 26 feet below the emergency spillway by Wednesday night. These storms are expected to persist through the weekend.

In a press conference today, Croyle said the heavily damaged main spillway appears to be stable given the current flow. It also will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide funds to help with debris removal as well as fix work to bridges, roads and other pubic facilities.

But after two days away from home, tens of thousands of evacuees were growing tired.

Often the posts refer to so-called expert friends who say there are a variety of emergencies at the dam that aren't being reported. "We're keeping the spillway rate up to get water out and prepare for the weather we're starting to experience right this moment and in coming days and weeks".

"I think it's also important for people to start thinking about, or planning where they might go or how they might get there so that we could avoid some confusion and perhaps make it go even orderly", Honea said.