Rain From Tropical Storm Rosa Threatens Dam Protecting Tonhono O’Odham Nation Village

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 12:29pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 12:30pm
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Tropical Storm Rosa broke records on Tuesday, drenching the Phoenix area in more than 2 inches of rain, making it the wettest October day ever recorded. The remnants of the storm can be seen everywhere one day later.

Mark O’Malley is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix. He said some parts of the Valley can expect even more rain, but added that the flooding shouldn’t be widespread.

But down on the border with Mexico, the Tonhono O’Odham Nation’s village of Ali Chuk in the Gu Vo District is facing a bigger problem caused by Tropical Storm Rosa.

There, in the quiet of the Sonoran desert, a 22-foot high dirt wall, called Menagers Dam, keeps the village dry. But, Rosa’s rains have saturated the dirt dam and, now, the National Weather Service is warning it could break. Residents have been ordered to evacuate.

Tomasa Ortiz is an employee of the Gu Vo District and a resident of Ali Chuk.

Ortiz first saw the call to evacuate on social media. After that, she said, things moved very fast.

People were dropped off at the district office where she works, 10 miles away, and at the local high school, which is 40 miles away. Now, it’s a waiting game for residents — if it rains any more, the muddy dam will fail. So they’re hoping the rain stops and the water subsides.

Ortiz said residents were anxious on Tuesday night, unsure what they would find when they returned to their properties.

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