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Red Cross sending five Arizonans to help Oroville Dam evacuees in California

Water rushes down the Oroville Dam spillway, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Oroville, Calif. State engineers on Thursday discovered new damage to the Oroville Dam spillway in Northern California, the tallest in the United States, though they said there is no harm to the nearby dam and no danger to the public. Earlier this week, chunks of concrete went flying off the spillway, creating a 200-foot-long, 30-foot deep hole. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

PHOENIX — Five Arizonans are being sent to northern California to help hundreds of thousands of people who were evacuated after officials became concerned about the structural integrity of a nearby dam.

The American Red Cross said Mike Vaughn and David Boyd were sent to the area near the Oroville Dam on Monday, where more than 200,000 people were evacuated. The agency did not disclose the other three people’s names.

“We have four shelters open now where people can find a safe place to stay, get meals, health services and a shoulder to lean on,” Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster operations and logistics, said in a press release.

Vaughn, who returned from a Georgia deployment last week, will serve as the mass-care chief. Boyd, who was recently deployed to Mississippi, will be a shelter manager.

The Red Cross estimated 4,800 people were in its shelters as of Tuesday.

“This is a potentially catastrophic situation – affecting thousands of people and homes – and our first priority is making sure people have a safe place to stay,” Kieserman said.

Concerns about the nation’s tallest dam were raised Sunday, when water began flowing over an emergency spillway that had severely eroded.

Officials originally said the dam would not be a threat to surrounding communities, but changed their tune after the spillway began to show signs of weakness.

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