Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA The Navajo Nation is reporting that the flood waters have finally receded. The heavy rainfall yielded life to the high desert plants and challenges for reservation travelers in the process.
The damage effected 21 chapters(township communities) across Arizona, plus 26 chapters in New Mexico with similar damages, and six chapters in Utah that were also adversely affected by the weather conditions.
Fifty earthen dams, excluding federally-list¬ed dams under the Safety of Dams, were breached from the heavy rainfall.
“We have been working the two months to address washouts and flooding across the Navajo Nation,”
said Paul¬son Chaco, director of Navajo Division of Transportation.
Chaco said although NDOT was not in the business of maintaining dams, his crew worked feverishly on Sept. 14 to prevent the Crownpoint Dam, located behind the old PHS housing, from breaching.
Lyneve Begaye, an archae¬ologist with the NDOT Project Planning Department, said she assisted with emergency services in Crownpoint.
“Crownpoint Dam needed monitoring for environmental and archaeological services. We also took out water and supplies for residents,”
NDOT staff utilized a industrial size, six-inch diameter pump owned by the division to begin pumping water out of the dam to relieve pressure. Begaye and others also began filling and stack¬ing sandbags to hold back the water.
“We ended up sandbagging and clearing an area for our blade and loader to cut a spillway into the dam to relieve the pressure.”
With assistance from the Department of Water Resourc¬es, a deep spillway was cut into the dam and a flooding disaster for the community was averted.
The Navajo Nation received an unusual amount of rainfall for over a month period. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the Navajo Indian Reservation received over 150 percent of the normal amount of precipitation. Portions of Coconino and Navajo County received almost double the normal monsoonal rainfall.
Chaco said NDOT staff worked late into the night and on weekends to get the road-ways cleared.
“The storms first hit the Eastern Agency in mid-August and continued through into the month of September for the Chinle Agency,”
“We utilized funds that were earmarked for FY 2014 road maintenance projects to address the flooding.”
“The Navajo Nation needs to do a mitigation plan for these flood plains,”
On August 21, the Navajo Nation Commission on Emergency Management met at the Navajo Transportation Center Emergency Operations Center and declared a state of emergency due to damag¬es from and in response to torrential monsoonal flooding throughout the Navajo Nation.
The Commission stated the Navajo Nation sustained damages exceeding the one million dollar threshold for the Federal Emergency Manage¬ment Agency's major disaster declaration.
Tribal programs suffer¬ing damages from the storm included Fleet Management, Motor Pool, Body Shop, Na¬vajo Environmental Protec¬tion Agency, Department of Justice, Navajo Nation Council Chamber, Navajo Nation Zoo, Navajo Tribal Utility Au-thority, and Bureau of Indian Affairs offices.
Signed by CEM Commis¬sioner Herman Shorty and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, the declaration allowed the Navajo Nation to coordi¬nate emergency and disaster relief with non-tribal entities.
On Sept. 16, President Shelly requested for assistance from FEMA to address the damages from the storm.
Recently, NDOT Depart¬ment of Roads released a report titled "Operation Storm Surge," which tracked their efforts with flood road mainte¬nance activities from the past month. The eight-page report detailed the scope of work provided by NDOT road crews during recent rain storms and floods across the Navajo Nation.
posted October 1, 2013 6:30 am edt