Calif. — The water level dropped Monday behind the nation’s tallest dam, reducing the risk of a catastrophic spillway collapse and easing fears that prompted the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people downstream. As the day began, officials from the California Department of Water Resources prepared to inspect an erosion scar on the spillway at the dam on Lake Oroville, about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco. Authorities ordered evacuations Sunday for everyone living below the lake out of concern that the spillway could fail and send a 30-foot wall of water roaring downstream. “We grabbed our dog and headed to higher ground — away from the river,” said Kimberly Cumings, who moved with her husband, Patrick, and 3-year-old daughter to Oroville from Fresno a month ago for a new job. They were eating at a restaurant when the evacuation order came.
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