Dike removal blamed from flooding, residents demand relief
Is it an act of God or is repeated flooding throughout Middle Verde caused by something else? Residents maintain it is something else. They’re mad and are demanding help, but they wonder whether anyone is listening.
Camp Verdeans who live on Middle Verde Road in the Overlook Acres and El Rancho subdivisions, the Yavapai-Apache Nation Tribal Housing community and surrounding areas, estimated to be between 200-400 strong, all maintain the problem is no act of God. They contend the ongoing flooding they experience during heavy rainstorms stems mainly from the loss of a nearby diversion dike and, in at least one case, the filling in of a natural wash.
More than 100 people in the Middle Verde community have signed a petition begging for relief. Copies of the petition are going to the Town of Camp Verde, Yavapai County and the U.S. Forest Service, according to organizer Von Brady. The petition is asking the town to seek help from Yavapai County Flood Control engineers to evaluate the problem and produce a plan for long-term flood control measures, as well as immediate floodwater relief.
Brady, who lives at the end of Middle Verde Road where he’s had some damage, said another property he owns on Northern has been hardest hit. Last year, he said, all of his fences were taken out because of the water coming down from the hills, sometimes known as the Badlands or the White Hills. Brady, like several others, asserts the flooding that results in thousands of dollars in damage to property owners, has been exacerbated in recent years by the loss of what was once a dike or diversion dam located in the hills. He said he believes the diversion dam was built by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, but is unsure when. He said he believes the dam was either torn down around the time the bridge was built at nearby Grandpa’s Wash, or that the dam collapsed. Whatever the reason it’s gone, he said something must be done.
Nancy Guzman, who oversees the Yavapai-Apache Nation’s tribal housing division, said she estimates $100,000 in losses to tribal housing during the past two large storms.
Dave Cooper, who lives on Dorset Lane, said his house is now “sloping” from the damage caused when water rolls down nearby hills. He’s lost two barns and a pumphouse, he said.
Joe Geidl, who also lives on Northern Avenue, complains that a nearby wash has been filled in by a neighbor and that compounds the hills’ flooding problem. Geidl said he’s well acquainted with the insurance adjuster, because he’s had five claims in three years and they are only “getting bigger.” He said he’s complained endlessly to the Town of Camp Verde and despite a letter sent to the neighbor from Yavapai County Flood Control, nothing has been done. He’s threatening to sue.
Brady has been badgering the town, the Forest Service, and the county flood control people for assistance and says he won’t give up until something is done. On Aug. 22, Brady and several neighbors set up an informal meeting inviting representatives from the town of Camp Verde, the county — in particular Supervisor Chip Davis’ office — and the Forest Service. Chris Moran from Davis’ office, along with a flood control representative, Brent Ayers attended, but on one from the town or Forest Service bothered to show up.
Ayers told the group, “It’s a town matter.” Apparently, the water problem is on Forest Service land, which is in the county but is coming down and flooding out residents of the town and Y-A Nation.
The purported dike area is in the Coconino Forest.
Sedona District Ranger Ken Anderson said, “It’s a problem in the incorporated boundaries of Camp Verde. We’ve encouraged the town and the county to design, with the community, flood control measures. The dam that was on the national forest may or may not be the best solution. We would not authorize the rebuilding of that dam without a current design that would deal with the problems.”
He went on to say that they want a “fresh design” that would solve the flooding conditions.
Ayers later said that it is possible, subject to the county board of supervisors’ approval, to seek county funds if a need was proven or justified, but emphasized the town must initiate a study or project. He said he thought the county might be willing to “co-op on a drainage issue.”
A second meeting of the residents has been scheduled for Aug. 31, 6:30 p.m., at the Community Church of God, 3475 Middle Verde Road. According to Brady, Camp Verde Town Manager John Roberts and other officials are expected to attend. Many residents affected by the ongoing flooding problems are expected to attend the meeting to voice their complaints.
This is not the first go-around on this subject. Following a September 1999 downpour, several neighbors in Middle Verde complained to town officials about damage to their properties.
Streets department supervisor Doug Jones said the council hoped to obtain relief for the families through the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), but there was not enough dollar damage to support a FEMA claim.
Jones said since the 1999 storm, the situation has grown worse. Recent summer rain storms have produced a resurgence of flooding problems. Following a recent downpour, several residents complained of eve more damage.
“It’s a big problem. It’s going to take cooperation from several agencies. I don’t think one agency can do it alone,” Jones added.
Camp Verde Channel 18 TV is expected to air more about the flooding problems sometime this week.