Vegan Above the Flood Plain

It has been an eventful week living here just outside Oroville, CA near the Oroville dam and spillway. Our little part of the world made national and international headlines this weekend when our damaged spillway, and untested emergency spillway started to look compromised to the officials monitoring the situation…

Here’s a bit of video I took today (2/16/2017) of the Feather River running near downtown Oroville:


The weather on Sunday Feb 12th 2017 was clear and sunny, a welcome change from the unrelenting rain and over cast skies of the past week. I drove down to Davis, CA to meet up with a friend for lunch and to see the new Manetti Shrem Art Museum on the U.C. Davis campus. I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area, the museum is free and parking free on weekends.

I arrived back home to the hills above Oroville at 3:30pm, chatted with my husband, walked outside on the back deck — and then both our cell phones chimed, with a “Severe Alert” text message “Flash Flood Warning this area til 4:15 PM PST. Avoid flood areas.”

Was this a mistake we wondered? We aren’t in a flood zone… but we checked the news and saw that the Butte County Sheriff had announced an immediate mandatory evacuation for all of downtown and south Oroville, as well as much of the area I had just driven through on my way back from Davis. People were to leave immediately and seek higher ground, those in Oroville were directed towards the city of Chico to the north. The area we live in is above and behind the dam, so it was safe for us to stay put. As we watched the news, seeing lines of people driving out of town, we felt very grateful for our location. But the situation had us on edge and slightly unnerved.  Helicopters buzzed over head, both news and those working on the problem. The spillway had been damaged some days before, a large gouge of damage was growing, and with the lake exceeding the top of the emergency spillway, officials feared that untested area might fail leading to a huge release of water, mud and debris.

On Monday, reality sank in, we wondered if we had enough food on hand to last for a while. There was uncertainty about the duration of this event — and worst case scenarios might have us trapped up here for a week or more. My husband decided to venture down to the small local market & gas station near us. The place was mobbed — long lines, no gas available. Tim looked around and was surprised to find that the kind of food we were looking for – vegetables and fruit WAS available. He picked up some fresh and frozen veggies, tomatoes, apples and a few other things to tide us over. (Luckily we do have a well stocked pantry — a necessity when living a distance from town)  He noticed that the food isles in the center of the store — chips, soda and packaged quick foods were almost completely bare! Maybe, in times of scarcity, it pays to be vegan? : )

Thankfully the mandatory evacuation was lifted the next day, changed to a “warning” — people came back, businesses opened again. But the threat is still there, and we have FEMA, DWR, National Guard, local law enforcement and Cal Fire all camping out in the marina downhill. Helicopters continue to fly overhead dropping one-ton bags of boulders to shore up the hill under the emergency spillway. Things will not return to “normal” anytime soon.

Here’s quick and comforting soup recipe I tried during this stressful time, courtesy of  the “Fresh Princess” on YouTube, “1 Pot, 5 Ingredient Pasta con Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas). All these ingredients were in my pantry already!