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Rising floodwaters lead to more evacuation orders in Arizona

Residents in one area of Camp Verde were told to evacuate because of flooding in low-lying areas along the Verde River
Credit: Yavapai County Sheriff's Office

LAKE MONTEZUMA, Ariz. — Some evacuation orders were lifted while others remained Wednesday as heavy rains began to dissipate in northern Arizona, but flooding threats lingered.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office officials said residents in Sedona could go home after determining that Oak Creek waters had gone down enough but said they should still be prepared to evacuate if needed.

Nearby in Cornville, people at lower ground along Oak Creek were also told to consider evacuating or be ready to.

Meanwhile, residents in one area of Camp Verde were told to evacuate because of flooding in low-lying areas along the Verde River. A shelter has been set up.

For the past two days, authorities have said rising floodwaters have made some neighborhoods in the Sedona and Cottonwood areas unsafe.

Evacuations also were ordered for portions of Black Canyon City, including an RV park, along the Agua Fria River in Yavapai County. Those orders were lifted around 6 p.m. 

The National Weather Service in Flagstaff said Wednesday afternoon that even though the stormy weather has appeared to wind down, there will be excessive runoff. Area creeks, streams and rivers will see higher flows. People are urged to keep away from fast-moving rivers and streams and to not try to cross any flooded roadways.

Also in Yavapai County, the city of Prescott is warning residents to stay out of certain streams and creeks because of possible contamination. The storms have increased flows in the sewer system, which transports household and commercial sewage to two wastewater facilities.

The sewer system, however, has been “stretched to its maximum capacity” because of all the storm water and snowmelt, city officials said in a news release. Crews have been trying to keep any flow in, but manholes near Granite Creek have exceeded capacity.

Officials say crews will begin disinfecting all impacted areas after the flows recede.

Weather conditions have already forced the closures of some streets and low-water crossings.

Salt River Project officials said storms have compelled the utility to increase the number of water releases from its two reservoirs on the Verde River.

The reservoirs were already more than 80% full.

Recent surveys found that snowpack on the 13,000-square-mile (34,000-square-kilometer) watershed that feeds into those Verde reservoirs is the deepest it’s been in 30 years.

The Salt River Project, which serves mainly central Arizona, operates by strategically releasing water from dams on the Salt and Verde rivers into a network of canals.

Damage caused by flooding in Vernon

Apache County Engineering and Drone operator are sending us photos in Vernon for damage assessments. Please use caution if you are in the area of 3137

Posted by Apache County Emergency Management and Preparedness on Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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Flooding Safety:

The Arizona Fire & Medical Authority has provided the following tips on what hazards to watch out for during and after a flood, including fire, electrical and chemical safety:

Generators and alternative heating devices can create fire hazards during flooding if they aren’t used correctly or maintained properly. Pools of water and appliances can become electrically charged and can cause electrical fires.

On electricity, residents in flooded areas should turn off the power to their homes if they can reach the main breaker or fuse box. All wiring in the house may be electrically charged and hazardous. Residents should have a professional technician check their home for damages before turning on the power.

Make sure potentially combustible liquids like paint thinner, lighter fluid or gasoline haven’t spilled within or near your home. Keep combustible liquids away from electrical or alternative heat sources as to not start a fire.

All smoke alarms in the home should be tested monthly and batteries should be replaced yearly. Some smoke alarms are dependent on your home’s electrical service and may go out when power is turned off.

Make sure the fire hydrant near your home is cleared of debris so the fire department can assess it easily in the event of a fire.

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