A video released Tuesday by the state Department of Water Resources shows a helicopter dropping rocks as authorities frantically work to repair Oroville Dam‘s eroded spillways before rain begins on Thursday.

The department said water is currently flowing through the main spillway at 100,000 cubic feet per second, lowering Lake Oroville’s level by 3 to 4 inches per hour.

Utilizing trucks and helicopters, crews are moving large rocks and gravel to fill erosion on an emergency spillway. Authorities continue to inspect and evaluate the emergency and primary spillways for further erosion.

According to the Butte County Sherriff’s Department, the emergency repairs will be competed by Wednesday, before another round of rain is forecast.

Evacuation orders that affected 100,000 people in the area were lifted Tuesday because of progress in lowering the lake and repairing the spillways.

“Due to lower lake levels, further inspections, ongoing work to shore-up the Oroville Dam emergency spillway and updated weather forecasts, effective at 1 p.m. today, the evacuation order for the Oroville Dam spillway Incident has been reduced to an evacuation warning,” the Butte County Sheriff said in a statement. “Any resident displaced by the evacuation may return home at 1 p.m.”

The Oroville Dam, the tallest in the United States, us considered safe, but uncontrolled release of water from the damaged emergency spillway could have caused flash flooding.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.