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WINDOW ROCK The Navajo Division of Transportation encourages motorists to use extreme caution when traveling Navajo Nation roadways this week.
According to the seven day forecast from National Weather Service, the Navajo Nation and northern Arizona are expecting thunderstorms and heavy rains for the week.
This means flooded roadways and dangerous driving conditions.
Ray Russell, department manager for NDOT Roads Department, said his crews are focused on clearing debris and sediments from paved roadways this week.
“We understand that the Bureau of Indian Affairs Roads Department is on training this week, so NDOT is covering all roads,”
“We will not be grading dirt roads due to the saturated soil from the major storms we received yesterday afternoon and last night.”
Russell said the potential of getting NDOT equipment stuck is high, which could further impact and restrict crews from conducting road assessments and operations.
“We will begin routine maintenance and repairs on those roads when things dry up and get back to normal,”
Including the BIA roadways triples the NDOT workload.
Drivers need to slow down to avoid hydroplaning. Never attempt to cross a flooded roadway. Instead, find an alternative route or do not attempt to travel, if at all possible.
Senior heavy equipment operator Roscoe Tsosie said his road maintenance crews are on the road this week, providing direct services to flooded areas.
“We have crews out on N15, near Cornfields and Sunrise area. Other areas include Route 12 near Indian Wells and N64 and N59, headed out to Kayenta from Many Farms.”
Other areas of concern were in the communities of Chinle, Red Valley, Tonalea, Cow Springs, Sweetwater, Two Grey Hills, Toadlena, Sheep Springs, Newcomb, and Shiprock.
Flash floods occur unexpectedly and quickly, often covering roadways within minutes or hours of excessive rainfall.
If you see a flooded roadway, turn around. Otherwise, find higher ground and wait for water to subside.
Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or stalled engines. One foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles, including pickups and sport utility vehicles.
The following tips for driving in thunderstorms are courtesy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
Look for more information at www.navajodot.org
posted September 13, 2013 7:30 am edt