9/18/2012 9:25:00 AM Monsoon rains flood Tuba City and Moencopi Hopi villages Heavy downpour creates mudslides, serious road and crop damage
Residents in both Tuba City, particularly South Tuba, suffered serious rain erosion damage from the heavy summer monsoon rains that closed down Highway 264 for two days to the east of Tuba City, as well as damaging sewer and water pipelines, driveways and residential areas. Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO
Pools of rain water collect in several residential areas of Tuba City and Hopi villages in Moencopi areas. One of the areas of heavy rain collection was near Dodson Pond in uptown Tuba City. Mud sludge overflowed many sewer lines and household water lines, busting pipes and causing much water damage. Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO
Rosanda Suetopka Thayer The Observer
TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Tuba City Navajo officials along with emergency service personnel from the Hopi Tribe and workers from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) battled muddy monsoon rain run-off this week after two full days of heavy rain downpour over the usually dry reservation area of northern Arizona.
The heavy rain created much landscape debris to obstruct public roadways also causing sewer and drinking water pipe bursts in residential areas, with muddy sand closing three local schools who could not access students because of water erosion on dirt roads used on daily bus runs.
Officials from both tribes who assessed the water damage said that many of the roadways in Tuba City were covered with water as high as eight inches to one foot, making local driving hazardous.
Asphalt damage was so severe on one of the main road arteries of Highway 264 East, causing ADOT to shut it down for two days until their road crews could safely repair damage to allow traffic through. Highway 264 - which points east of Tuba City - is the only main roadway to the Hopi Reservation.
ADOT road crews and deputies from the Coconino County Sheriff's Office worked together along with both Navajo and Hopi tribal emergency crews to clean mud and debris over a three-day period. Emergency sandbags had to be utilized to keep areas that still contained collected water from flooding into residential or commercial areas.
The National Weather Service issued a "flood advisory" for the northern portion of Arizona, which included Tuba City, Moencopi, Cameron and the Timberline area of Flagstaff over the three-day period.
Though flooding was severe, no residents were displaced in either the Navajo or Hopi reservation areas.
Crop damage in the lower portion of the Hopi village of Lower Moencopi was visible from the roadways and areas of the upper village, these two Hopi villages are the only Hopi villages that utilize "irrigation" for their corn and bean fields. The overflow of rainwater will most likely cause so much mildew damage, that many of the fields will not be able to be salvaged.
As of Sept. 14, Highway 264 was fully re-opened and daily activity and public services as well as school activity were back to normal.