Southern Arizona dam holding as water recedes
PHOENIX (AP) — A southern Arizona dam that had been at risk of breaking and flooding a small village held steady Wednesday as the lake behind it receded after being swollen with runoff from the remnants of Tropical Storm Rosa.
The water level at Menager’s Dam dropped about 4 feet (1.2 meters) over the course of the day after rising to just a foot (0.3 meters) below the top of the 22-foot-high earthen dam, said Matt Smith, a spokesman for the Tohono O’odham (TOH’-oh-no OH’-tum) Nation.
Ali Chuk, a Native American community with 162 people, had been evacuated Tuesday night.
Tribal officials inspected the dam and lake by helicopter and determined the water was receding, but there still are concerns about the dam’s integrity, Smith said.
With more rain forecast for the end of this week, tribal officials were assembling an engineering team to inspect the dam.
During the past three days, moisture from the storm dumped 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 centimeters) of rain in isolated mountain areas near the dam, the National Weather Service said.
Flooding from runoff made roads impassable.
Smith said 32 residents of Kohatk were evacuated to shelters along with 23 from the Menegar’s Dam community with others leaving in their vehicles, but a few tribal members have refused to leave.
Elsewhere in the state, flash-flood watches in Phoenix and other areas were set to expire later Wednesday as the storm left the region and headed for Colorado and Utah.
Up to 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain had fallen in parts of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the weather service said.
A separate flash flood warning was issued through Thursday morning for Yavapai County north of Phoenix because of possible thunderstorms.
A record 2.35 inches (5.97 centimeters) of rain had fallen at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as of Tuesday night, the weather service said.
That made it the rainiest October day since records have been kept, topping the 2.32 (5.89) inches recorded on Oct. 14, 1988. It also marked the eighth-rainiest day in Phoenix history for any date.