Tonto River Basin area faces potential flooding due to winter rain storm

Some residents say they watch weather patterns frequently, plan ahead and avoid driving near the Tonto Basin.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 12:11 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:37 PM MST
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TONTO CREEK, AZ R(3TV/CBS 5) -- Tonto Basin is facing another possible flooding due to this week’s ongoing winter storm that brought snow to the north and rain to the Valley.

The creek was already rising by early Monday morning, as meteorologist Steven Sarabia found during Good Morning Arizona. Local officials say locals tend to drive around the warning signs and road closure signs since low water crossings are something that they are used to. Regardless, ADOT and weather experts are encouraging drivers to always pay attention the signs in place, creek level reports, and to turn around don’t drown.

Local residents say that when the road floods, it can pose some serious issues, especially if there’s an emergency. A resident named Randy Roberson said, “It’s a challenge because you’ve got cattle ranchers that have work they gotta get done, others that need groceries, to get baby diapers, whatever. We expect things to get much worse in the next 24-48 hours.”

Residents of the Tonto River Basin are bracing for more flooding in the wake of the winter storm.

Roberson said that some residents help ferry people across Roosevelt Lake to avoid the wash, but if that’s not an option, the 8 Crossroad is an option as a four-wheel drive road. Regardless, to use even that road would be a 3 hour trip and often isn’t accessible. “More than anything, we’ve documented using a drone of people getting stuck just to raise awareness,” he said. “Occasionally you get someone who makes a bad decision...and that ends up being an expensive learning experience.”

Roberson said most people try to stock up on what they need, but sometimes it’s unavoidable to have to try to cross or use another route. In regard to the bridge, locals are excited about the construction that is expected to finish at some point later this year.

“In about the middle of next year--they’ve done some clearing behind where we’re standing,” Roberson said. “Things are rolling along smoothly so far.”