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OES: No danger of Isabella Dam breaking, but people should stay prepared

The Office of Emergency Services assures people that the Isabella Lake Dam is not going to break, but in the case it does, people should prepare for the worst case scenario.

When the Army Corps of Engineers first noticed a problem on the Isabella Lake Dam back in 2006, it decided to make sure the dam does not overflow. That being said, the water in the dam isn't allowed to exceed 66 percent capacity while the Army Corps is working on it. If it goes over 66 percent, officials will have to start releasing water from the dam.

RELATED STORY | Corps of Engineers on Isabella Dam: 'The spillway is in good shape'

"Whenever there is a possibility of dam failure, dam safety trumps all other concerns," said Georgianna Armstrong, emergency services manager for Kern County.

Armstrong said the Office of Emergency Services came up with an evacuation plan in the event of a dam failure. Evacuations would be issued by zones, with the first zone being closest to impact.

Amstrong said the dam would not just break immediately. It would take time for the soil to erode, making its way into each community. In northeast Bakersfield, the water would take four or five hours to arrive.

Armstrong said people should not be concerned, because the the Army Corps of Engineers closely monitors Isabella Lake Dam levels.

"The Army Corps walks and inspects the dam every single day with instruments set up at the dam. If there were any problem or concern with the dam, the Army Corps would be working very closely with the city and county, relaying their concerns so that we could take important pubic safety action," she said.

Amstrong advises everyone to get Ready Kern, a telephone system that alerts the public in case of disaster. Also, to stay prepared with an evacuation kit.

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