Clean-up efforts continue on the Navajo Nation after monsoon floods

Flood concerns remain on the Navajo Nation. And Pres. Nez says the nation will work to get money from the recent federal infrastructure bill.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 7:14 AM MST
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NAVAJO NATION (3TV/CBS 5) -- Clean-up is underway on the Navajo Nation as several communities dealt with heavy flooding from the monsoon storms. Many of the rural dirt roads were washed out.

Liz Lane Clawson of Clawson Excavating, Inc. sent a video of her crew clearing the streets in Kaibeto, Arizona. She’s working with the Navajo Department of Transportation to repair the road. Officials have said heavily traveled roads, which lead into elderly or disabled people’s homes, will be prioritized.

“My concern is that a lot of residents in this area are elderly, or handicapped, or have health issues. And they need to get out to the grocery store or to the clinic,” said Mary Katherine Smith. She lives near Big Mountain. Smith says her home has no electricity, and she has to haul in her water, which she’s running low on. Mary Katherine showed us roads in her area, which she says are unsafe to travel.

“I can’t use the roads, with 300 gallons of water on those roads, and I just have to wait until it’s dry enough and safe enough to cross,” she said.

President Jonathan Nez said first responders were out delivering food and water to people that were impacted. Some were also evacuated from flood plane areas. The Navajo Nation declared a state of emergency on Aug. 1 because of the monsoon storms.

“Every day we’ve been seeing rain so that team has gone and fixed roads and the very next day it’s washed out again. We’ve seen some culverts washed out and the first responsibility is the health and well-being of our Navajo people,” he said.

Nez said he met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week to discuss President Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. He said the nation would press for some of that money to improve roads.

“With the amount of roads that are needed to be improved here, and build more bridges on the Navajo Nation, we’re looking at billions of dollars to improve those roads, the existing roads, and building new roads,” he said.