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NEWPORT, Ore. — People in blazers and strapped-on booties waded through the dark intake tunnel of a dam, flashlights in hand, stirring rust-colored silt into the water. Spiders and large black crickets scurried across the wet walls. And water trickled from seepage holes — vulnerable breakage points inside the tunnel.

From left, Tim Gross, Newport public works director and city engineer; Spencer Nebel, Newport city manager; Mike Harryman, resiliency officer …

About a dozen Oregon politicians, bureaucrats and community leaders enter the dam intake at Big Creek Dam No. 2 (Upper) in Newport to view its…

Detail of a seepage hole.

Rep. David Gomberg, D-Neotsu, walks through the dam intake tunnel.

Racquel Rancier of the Oregon Water Resources Department, left, takes a photo of a seepage hole inside the Big Creek dam intake while Rep. Dav…