How 100,000 people suddenly became homeless


Pray for the people of Oroville, California, 100,000 of whom are temporarily homeless today, and for how long, they don’t know. Imagine if you were uprooted from your home with no guarantee that there will be anything left by the time you returned there.

In case this story is new to you, there is a dam north of the town of Oroville in northern California that is currently having difficulty holding back all the water that is overflowing the lake it guards. There are two spillways that can be opened to let out water when the level in the lake gets too high, but in the flooded conditions lately both those spillways have sustained some damage. The concern is that if one of those spillways gives way, it will release a 30-foot wall of water on the town of Oroville down river. That’s a tsunami hitting a central California town. You just don’t expect things like this to happen.

Not wanting to take any chances, the authorities have ordered the evacuation of the entire town of 100,000 people, most of whom have gone upriver to the town of Chico which is now swollen with people seeking some kind of shelter. Pray for the Christians in that town who will have an opportunity to entertain strangers. Churches and community centers are opening to help provide for these people. They’re going to have tons of stories to tell, I’m sure. Many them will surely never judge a homeless person again. And imagine the already homeless in Chico showing all their new neighbors the ropes.

Meanwhile there are some people who defied the order and chose to stay home. One of them was quoted as saying, “God didn’t establish Oroville to get washed away by this dam.” Someone needs to point out to him that Oroville wasn’t necessarily God’s idea, nor was the dam. In fact, the dam created one of the largest manmade lakes in the world. The lake wasn’t even God’s idea. But God could hold back the water. Should the spillway give way, the part most at fault would be the hillside that broke away from erosion. God could certainly keep that hillside in tact should He choose, which is what we pray He will do.

So remember all these people and pray for good to come out of this. New friendships to be formed. More empathy to be created. Christians rising up and being full of grace and welcome. There is a new storm predicted for tomorrow that could dump 2 inches of rain on Oroville and up to 8 inches in the surrounding mountains. Doesn’t sound like anybody’s going to be going home right away.

And if any of our Catch people are in the area, write us and tell us some stories.

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6 Responses to How 100,000 people suddenly became homeless

  1. How many times I’ve thought about this. When I see families in Syria or Iraq, living their lives one day, going to school, work, store, then suddenly uprooted. The folks in Louisiana when Katrina hit. No home left to go to. Nowhere in particular to actually go to. Just run for your life. Leave it behind. I pray everyone who wants to find a place to stay in Chico will find one, whether in shelters or in people’s homes.

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    I seen a pretty good report about this on MSNBC. I watch Rachel M’s show everyone in a while, just to get the liberals view of current issues, yet she didn’t mention, as you did it’s close to the town of Chico and that’s interesting. Because once met a nice man many years ago who lived there. We discussed the Amway Biz. I sud give him a call….:)

  3. Markus says:

    Frankly, I was already thinking of you when I heard about this. I have no idea whether you, or your family are even affected, but that is what went through my mind. Anyway, no matter whether you are personally affected or not, many other people are and I pray for their well being!

  4. Ken Barczi says:

    I thought you would like to know that an old PBC acquaintance, Pam Mark Hall, who hailed from Orville, Ca has been part of the evacuation you wrote about. Her parents still live there and she has been taking care of her mother with dementia when the evacuation took place. They have been in the town of Chico since.
    Joanne and I have been supporting Pam and hope to host one of her home concerts sometime this summer in Lynden, Wa. Wouldn’t it be fun to have an old time PBC concert with you and Pam? In any event, we will keep you informed about events this summer.
    Last post from Pam stated the evacuation has changed to a “warning” meaning they could return to her parents place with readiness to travel if things change.
    Ken and Joanne Barczi

    • jwfisch says:

      Pam is a MemberPartner of the Catch. I knew she was in northern California but didn’t realize she was a part of the evacuation. I’m so glad to know this. Do keep us posted. I will try and get a hold of her.

  5. Marc says:

    My prayers for Orville. California seems to get it all. First wildfires, now floods.

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