ARIZONA NEWS

Flooding triggers evacuations in Northern Arizona’s Navajo Nation

Apr 23, 2023, 7:45 PM | Updated: 8:26 pm

Chinle Wash rages in Northern Arizona. (Photo by Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren/Facebook)....

Chinle Wash rages in Northern Arizona. (Photo by Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren/Facebook).

(Photo by Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren/Facebook)

PHOENIX — Navajo Nation officials ordered evacuations Sunday for some residents of Chinle after floodwaters filled washes and overflowed berms and dirt dams.

“Our priority is life,” Patrick Sandoval, chief of staff in the Navajo Nation Office of the President, and Vice President said in a press release. “That’s the number one priority, to make sure that everybody is safe and in the best situation that we can accommodate them with.”

“What we’re facing is overflow from the lakes upstream, Tsaile Lake and Wheatfields Lake,” Sandoval added. “Those feed into the canyon which are now producing large amounts of water.”

He said the focus has been to evacuate people by the Navajo police. The Chinle Chapter is providing shelter for families who have evacuated although some residents don’t want to leave their homes.

The cause of the flood, he said, stems from a long-standing issue that over a dozen years or more the Chinle Wash has filled with silt. That has resulted in much of the wash bed being at an even level with the surrounding land, causing floodwater to crest its banks.

The tribe declared a state of emergency Jan. 19 after heavy snow hit parts of the vast reservation, which covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, leaving flooding and muddy roads.

Recent snowmelts then filled lakes and led to water runoffs in Chinle, which has a population of about 4,500.

Efforts among Apache County, Navajo Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have continued over time to work on the diversion of the water to keep it out of the community, he said.

Nonetheless, he added, it’s not a plan that was engineered with solid berms to withstand repeated flooding over time.

“There’s no stopping it,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Aerial view of Salt Lake City temple....

KTAR.com

Here’s where the next Arizona temple will be for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled plans last week to build a new temple in Arizona as part of a global expansion.

48 minutes ago

Icess Woodcox is accused of fatally stabbing a member of her family over the weekend in west Phoeni...

KTAR.com

Elderly woman fatally stabbed over the weekend in west Phoenix

A woman reported that she stabbed another woman at a residence near Thomas Road and 51st Avenue in Phoenix on Sunday.

3 hours ago

Wyatt Langford #82 of the Texas Rangers signs autographs before the Spring Training Game against th...

Danny Shapiro

Spring training attendance in Arizona rose in 2024 with help from World Series teams, Shohei Ohtani

Spring training attendance in Arizona increased for the third straight year and there were several contributing factors.

4 hours ago

Kate Gallego called TSMC's expansion in Phoenix a "success story." (Photo by Annabelle Chih/Getty I...

KTAR.com

Phoenix mayor says TSMC ‘success story’ led to expanded presence in town

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego believes Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's expansion in town is well warranted.

4 hours ago

Grand Canyon new water distribution line...

Nick Borgia

Grand Canyon National Park announces reopening of trails and campground

Grand Canyon officials announced that Havasupai Gardens Campground, Bright Angel trail and Tonto Trail will reopen for public use April 15.

4 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

Sponsored Content by Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Flooding triggers evacuations in Northern Arizona’s Navajo Nation