Tohono O'odham Nation lifts evacuation notice for Ali Chugk and Kohatk communities

October 17, 2018 - 12:42 pm

The Tohono O'odham Nation Department of Public Safety has lifted the evacuation notice for Ali Chugk and Kohatk communities effective Tuesday, October 16, 2018. Members from Ali Chugk and Kohatk that are able to return have been transported back to their respective communities from the Emergency Shelter in Sells by Tohono O'odham Nation personnel and the American Red Cross. The Emergency Shelter continues to be active with community members from Kohatk.

To ensure the safety of Ali Chugk community the Tohono O'odham Nation is continuing to monitor all efforts for Meneger's Dam including inspections and ongoing pumping operations to reduce the water level in the lake. Currently there are five pipes discharging water into a tributary wash. At full capacity approximately 84 million gallons of water will be discharged within a 24-hour period.

Tohono O'odham Nation - Water Resources Department (TON-WRD) has a lake level monitor in Meneger's Lake that measures every four hours the available freeboard at Meneger's Dam. Freeboard is the distance between the surface level of the lake and the top of the dam. The higher the footage of freeboard, the lower the lake level and the safer Ali Chugk community is. The Bureau of Indian Affairs - Dam Safety, Security, and Emergency Management group has established an emergency freeboard threshold of three feet.  If the available freeboard at Meneger's Dam drops to less than three feet, evacuation activities will take place.

Rainfall for the region is monitored by the National Weather Service.  Weather forecasts and updates are provided to the Tohono O'odham Nation - Office of Emergency Management during heavy rain events.  The TON-WRD rain and stream gage network supports the National Weather Service alert and warning activities.

As a result of Tropical Storm Rosa, 64 homes were reported to have been damaged in Gu Vo, Hickiwan, Sif Oidak, and Pisinemo Districts. Damage assessments have been conducted and recovery efforts for impacted households will continue over the coming weeks. Damage assessments were also conducted for impacted roadways, public buildings, and utility systems and recovery efforts will also be ongoing.