CHINLE, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren has spared no expense or equipment to help Chinle residents affected by flood waters from overflow released by Wheatfields Lake and Tsaile Lake.
Flooding through the communities and along the Chinle Wash began Friday afternoon when a berm meant to hold back rising water failed.
Staff from the Office of the President and Vice President have been on site since Friday to assist Chinle Chapter.
“There’s a whole plethora of people out here,” President Nygren said. “Local people are donating clothing and food. I am thankful for everybody involved, including my staff, Apache County, the folks on the ground who’ve aided the local residents.”
Vice President Richelle Montoya visited the site and families. She spoke with them and reassured them that President Nygren would assure the full deployment of all the necessary resources to assist the community and the families.
A Jan. 19, 2023, declaration of a state of emergency by the Navajo Nation Commission on Emergency Management remains in effect to address the on-going need for resources.
The Chinle Chapter flooding is covered under this emergency declaration.
By Monday evening, resources were deployed from across the Navajo Nation — Navajo Department of Transportation, Navajo Engineering Construction Authority, Apache County, American Red Cross, NTUA, Navajo Technical University and Chinle Chapter. On Saturday, President Nygren authorized the deployment of heavy equipment, backhoes, bull dozers and front-end loaders.
“The full force of the Navajo Nation has been made available to assist the community of Chinle,” President Nygren said.
Navajo Police, Navajo Nation Fire & Rescue, EMS, Navajo Department of Emergency Management, CHR, Navajo rangers and Navajo Nation Fish & Wildlife have been on-site to assist community members affected by the flooding.
Of 47 referrals categorized as urgent care, 45 have been answered. Displaced families are being housed by NHA and are being placed into NHA homes and in local hotels.
The Chinle Chapter and its staff are filling and delivering sandbags. More than 20,000 sand bags have gone out, and an additional 20,000 are being filled.
Reconstruction of the berm that breached is underway. NTUA has been working to restore downed power poles and electric lines.
IHS and the Chinle Unified School District are working with school children who are trapped in their homes. School bus traffic has also been affected by the floods. IHS is monitoring safe drinking water access.
Local chapter officials and grazing officials assisted President Nygren’s staff to identify materials necessary to begin to construct a new berm to redirect water back into the wash.
When responding to this emergency, please continue to ensure documentation is preserved in the event that the Commission on Emergency Management needs to re-affirm or modify the 2023 emergency declaration.