I know that many of you, by now anyway, are at least aware of the situation in Northern California and the crisis at the dam located in Oroville, California. Before I go into the meat and potatoes of this, I need to provide a little background.
When I was 10 or 11 I moved from San Jose, California to Oroville, just south of the dam that was designed to both store, and regulate the flow of water from the tributaries feeding into the Feather River. I used to fish off the face of the dam, as well as on a peninsula that extended parallel to the inlet to the spillway. I can’t count the times I went fishing on the lake itself, or went waterskiing or tubing on the lake. So I am quite familiar with the layout; although not the particulars of the construction of the dam itself.
When I moved to Oroville the dam had just been dedicated by, then governor, Ronald Reagan. It was touted almost as a wonder of the world due to the fact that it was earthen filled and so big. But it is critical that people realize it was a State funded project by the California Department of Water Resources; not a federally funded project.
On August 1, 1975 a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit the Oroville area; causing fears that the dam could break. I remember the day as if it just happened yesterday; I had just gotten home from a record store with the new release from Blue Oyster Cult; Agents of Fortune. I had just dropped the needle onto the vinyl when the whole house began shaking. For a week we camped out in the back yard until the aftershocks stopped and the danger of our house collapsing subsided.
I have also, throughout my life, had to evacuate due to some sort of disaster. I was stationed in the panhandle of Florida for 3 years at Eglin AFB and had to evacuate when Hurricane Elena threatened to make landfall at, or near, Eglin. I was stationed at Clark Air Base when, on June 15, 1991 Mount Pinatubo erupted; forcing the evacuation of all but a handful of people from both the Clark and Subic Bay installations.
I have had to evacuate the house I currently live in twice now; once for flooding back in 1997, and now due to the problems with the spillway at Lake Oroville. So I am familiar with the hardships of having to evacuate in a hurry, and also a bit more experienced; so I know what to do and how to go about it without panicking.
I am also relatively well prepared to ride out any kind of emergency; such as an extended power outage or other situation where the things most people take for granted are suddenly cut off. We have enough food and water to last awhile, and enough ammunition to ward off looters should the need arise.
I say all this because this is not, as the old saying goes, my first rodeo. I take the old Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared, to heart.
Having been through all that, and sitting here and read all the wild rumors about the current situation in Oroville, I have been forced to once again sit here and write my thoughts on this whole fiasco before my brain overheats.
First off, I’m seeing a lot of blame being passed around; especially to President Trump for not immediately offering federal assistance for those affected by the evacuation orders which were issued. Some are saying he is not offering assistance to spite Governor Brown and his position on Sanctuary Cities in the State of California. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but if so maybe we ought to be rethinking our position on supporting illegal aliens, and politicians who pander to them, rather than blaming Trump. Maybe instead of blaming Trump we should blame Governor Brown and all the mayors who refuse to enforce what is, one of the few laws our federal government has the authority to enforce upon the States.
Plus, and I hate to beat a dead horse, people need to stop expecting the federal government to come to their aide every time there is a crisis of some sorts. Way back when our government came into existence, each State was an independent and sovereign nation unto itself. The governments of these State/Nations were responsible for providing for all the needs of the residents within their respective States. It was never intended that the federal government assume that responsibility, or be saddled with it.
Is that part of the problem; that we have come to rely/expect too much from the federal government, and not expect it from the State where the responsibility is supposed to rest? Before out government was created each State was an independent sovereign nation unto itself. Each State government was responsible for managing the internal affairs of that State. The federal government created by our Constitution was designed to manage the interaction between the States; i.e. as in regulating commerce, providing a common currency, and establishing a uniform rule of naturalization, and at the same time providing for the common defense, while the remaining powers were reserved to the States.
In 1788, James Madison, arguing in favor of ratification of the Constitution, assured the people of New York, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.“ (Federalist 45 My emphasis)
Almost from the beginning that division, or balance between State and federal power has shifted to where people now rely upon the federal government for things which are solely the responsibility of the State to manage; as in funding for emergencies within the States. In short, agencies such as FEMA should not even exist as they are not within the specific powers granted the federal government and the expenditure of funds from the federal treasury upon emergency relief and internal improvements are NOT authorized by the Constitution.
In 1817 this same James Madison, now acting as President, vetoed a bill for internal improvements, sending it back to Congress with the following message, “Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled “An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,” and which sets apart and pledges funds “for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,” I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated.”
Has our Constitution changed over the course of the 200 years since Madison vetoed that bill, or is it that the people do not know, nor do they care, that those powers are not granted the federal government?
If the dam, or the spillways to that dam needed improvements, or upkeep, it was the responsibility of the government in Sacramento to ensure that the dam was kept in proper, and safe, working order…not the responsibility of Washington D.C. Every governor since Ronald Reagan, (who dedicated the dam in 1968), has allowed the spillways to reach the point that we are now faced with the problem of spending millions upon millions of dollars to repair, or replace them.
I keep seeing all these Facebook posts saying that maybe Governor Brown should not be spending all this money providing benefits to illegal aliens and should have been spending money to fix the spillway at Lake Oroville. Listen, I have no love for Gerry Brown, but to put the blame solely upon him is disingenuous and should be spread out to all former governors who, as some RUMORS go, ignored warnings from 3 environmental groups that the regular spillway might fail due to erosion along its sides.
Now that I’ve mentioned rumors, I’d like to delve into all the rumors and fear-mongering I witnessed on Facebook after the initial evacuation order was sent out. I swear, if you believe everything people were saying you would have thought that God had once again opened the floodgates of Heaven and was ready to wipe man off the face of the Earth for a second time.
When the evacuation order came out the news was reporting that there was an ‘imminent’ failure of the emergency spillway and that if it gave out a 30ft wall of water was going to be released into the Feather River; causing flooding in all areas along the banks of the river. I found the warning to be sufficient cause to pack up our bugout items and head for a safer location.
The next morning, after staying the night in a friend’s house out of harm’s way, I was sipping on my morning coffee watching the Kelly Ripa show. She said that the big bags of boulders that the helicopters were transporting were being dropped into the gaping hole in the concrete spillway to repair the damage to it. Having just watched the news broadcast from KCRA I knew that her statement was untrue. Yet those watching her show, and not having access to local broadcasts, would believe it to be true. While NBC News did later provide more accurate information; this is how rumors spread and that, in turn, causes panic if those rumors are that people’s lives are in imminent danger.
Sure, it is prudent to be prepared for any emergency that might arise, it is also prudent to not take everything you hear to be the truth. Just because somebody says they know somebody that worked at the dam, or their friend heard something, does not make it true. Verify first before blindly accepting that what you hear is the gospel truth, and worse, spreading it for others to read. Again, that is how panic starts.
The way I look at life is that; shit is going to happen. All you can do is be the best prepared for it when it does, and then pray for the best. That’s one thing about being prepared; it lowers your anxiety levels when emergencies arise. The only time I got a bit anxious was when the emergency evacuation order came down and I called my son at work and told him he had to get home immediately. His acting supervisor at work said that she had not heard anything from her boss, therefore my son had to stay until they closed down for the day. I gave her the number to the sheriff’s office and told her to call and verify what I had said, but she would not do so; choosing rather to wait for her boss to give her any info.
Just as people spreading rumors cause problems, people who refuse to verify legitimate concerns cause problems for those who are in possession of actual facts. Had I been face to face with that woman; she would be missing a few teeth now.
Anyway, this crisis has done one thing for me; it has reaffirmed my belief that people are going to go on believing what they have been told without verifying whether those things are truthful or not. That goes to both the rumors that begin flying when a crisis arises, and when it comes to passing blame around for the cause of that crisis; or who is responsible for providing aide to those during that crisis.
In short; aside from the damage to the spillway, not much has changed in regards to how people act in response to a crisis.
February 15, 2017
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) AND don’t forget to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.