Floodwaters pound Verde Valley

Courtesy photo by Kelly Moffitt

THE VERDE River crested in the Verde Valley on Monday afternoon after collecting water from the Chino area.

A massive rainfall in western Yavapai County spurred by Tropical Depression Javier sent torrents of water into the Verde River headwaters Sunday causing the river to burst its banks through the Verde Valley Monday.

Verde Valley Fire District Capt. Mark Dixon said that though officials haven't received official damage reports as of Tuesday, there was some damage and evacuations were conducted.

"We did some evacuation at Suburban Trailer Park on Bates Road where we moved about nine trailers that were near the river," he said. "And part of Thousand Trails RV Park was evacuated as a precaution."

Fire officials reported that though there were no reports of injuries, several homes did take on floodwater.

Dixon said that this flood was significantly lower that the flood of 1993, "probably by some 10-feet."

Fire officials reported that the river crested at the Chino Watershed early Monday, taking 8-hours to crest here in the Verde Valley.

"We had a 30-minute warning that the water was coming," Dixon added.

Area parks were closed during the river's cresting period and re-opened later Monday evening.

Yavapai County reported that it distributed over 100 sandbags to citizens to help fight rising water as did area fire stations.

Water flow gauges at the Paulden headwaters of the river recorded 18,230 cubic feet per second of water flowing out of Sullivan Lake late Sept. 19, where the usual flow this time of year is more like 20 cfs. By comparison, the flood of '93 recorded a peak flow of 63,000 cfs at the Clarkdale gauging station. The second most severe Verde River flood of the past century occurred in February of 1920, when a flow of 50,600 cfs was recorded at the Clarkdale gauging station.

This, however, was the second-highest river flow ever recorded at Paulden, where a stream gauge has been located since 1963.

The river level at Paulden suddenly rose from 1 to 13 feet deep late Sunday.

Verde Valley Fire Chief Don Eberle said that County Emergency Service personnel in Sycamore Canyon had announced the potential for flooding and emergency crews took precautions.

"We received the report that on Monday morning that the river had already crested at about 15 feet and was beginning to recede," he said. "Many citizens were getting sandbags from the fire station as a precaution."

But some homes along the banks of the Verde River were beyond the use of sandbags to stave off flooding.

The cold muddy water hit residents of Verde Village Units 4 and 5 on Monday morning as firefighters monitored the river's action that caused road closures.

Brandon Cooper lives in Verde Village unit 1.

He stood on Comanche Drive in Verde Village Unit 4 where the Verde River ran brown and covered the asphalt road nearly to Broken Saddle Drive as pieces of debris floated downstream.

He said, "I've never seen the river this high. It's too bad that some homes are probably being flooded."

His wife Autumn has lived in the Verde Valley all of her life.

"The last time I saw water this high was in 1993, but this isn't as bad." She held onto one of her sons and added, "we need water but not like this."

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