From the Editor

From the Editor

I worked in the campus emergency operations center focused on keeping our campus community safe and informed as the situation unfolded . . .

Consumed by my studies and student life, I never paid much attention to the Oroville Dam as an undergrad—or to many other features of the North State and surrounding communities. Yet as an alum, I became more attuned to the hulking hillside 30 minutes southeast of Chico and the significance of the water it contained.

I watched with fascination throughout the drought in recent years, as Lake Oroville levels dropped to devastating lows, and again this winter as the water rose and rose. And, in the heavy rains of early February, my imagination began considering the “what ifs” should a disaster strike.

And then, it almost did. Damage to the primary concrete spillway forced water to be released over the untested auxiliary spillway—essentially an earthen hillside. On the afternoon of February 12, the looming failure of that emergency spillway due to unanticipated erosion prompted the immediate evacuation order of more than 180,000 people in and around the city of Oroville—some of our students, faculty, and staff among them.

That night, I worked in the campus emergency operations center focused on keeping our campus community safe and informed as the situation unfolded, with little time to contemplate the larger implications.

It wasn’t until the next day I began realizing we had other communications to consider—the stories of our students who rushed to provide aid and assist those in need; our faculty who offered engineering expertise to inquisitive media; and our alums, whose various careers called them into action, whether as reporters, clergy, or law enforcement.

As we considered the content for our spring issue of Chico Statements, it was clear that an editorial change was needed. We postponed a planned story to make way for the feature coverage of this rare and high-profile incident, and to share the stories of our students, faculty, and alums who were involved or added valuable insight to this chapter of North State history.

I hope you find their stories fascinating and that you’re filled with pride at how Wildcats rise up in the face of disaster to answer the call of those in need. I sure am.

—Ashley Gebb (’08), Publications Editor

 
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Alum Notes

CRISTINA RAMIREZ

CRISTINA RAMIREZ

('08) was promoted to assistant superintendent of Calcrete Construction.

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JOEY KOCHLACS

JOEY KOCHLACS

(’12) runs his own sustainable furniture business.

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BOB GEISER

BOB GEISER

('88) received a distinguished service award from the Boy Scouts.

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