River flooding forces evacuations near Sedona, Camp Verde

·7 min read

More evacuation orders were issued Wednesday afternoon for residents in Yavapai county due to flooding.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office issued a GO message for the Armetta area of Camp Verde along the Verde River.

"There is flooding in the low-lying areas along the Verde River," the department posted on Facebook. "Please evacuate now or move to higher ground. Do not enter flooded areas. Turn around, don't drown."

Some residents in Sedona and other parts of Yavapai county were allowed to return home on Wednesday afternoon.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office urged Black Canyon City residents living at the River's Edge RV Park near the Agua Fria River to evacuate at 10 a.m. on Wednesday The evacuation was a GO message, meaning residents should evacuate immediately as danger is imminent.

A 12:40 p.m., a Facebook post from the city of Sedona changed the order to SET, meaning they may return home but should be ready to evacuate again on immediate notice.

The evacuation call comes as officials expect the Agua Fria River levels to rise dramatically, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office tweeted on Wednesday evening that previous flood warnings for Rimrock residents in the Wet Beaver Creek area were no longer in effect but urged those returning to their homes to remain cautious with damage and flooding.

The following evacuation orders are in place:

  • Trails End Road (SET)

  • Trails End Lane (SET)

  • Blackhawk Lane (SET)

  • Newcastle Lane (SET)

  • Oak Creek Mobilodge (SET)

  • Copper Cliffs Drive (SET)

  • Copper Cliffs Lane (SET)

  • Sycamore Road (SET)

  • the Villas at Poco Diablo Resort (SET)

  • Center for the New Age (SET)

  • Rancho Sedona RV Park (SET)

  • houses north of the recreational vehicle park on Bear Wallow Lane (SET)

  • Cottonwood area along Verde River, South of State Route 89A (GO)

  • Rivers Edge RV Park near the Agua Fria River in Black Canyon City (GO)

  • Armetta area of Camp Verde near the Verde River (GO)

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Where should evacuated residents go?

Camp Verde Town Gym, at 395 S. Main St. in Camp Verde, is the area's designated official shelter.

Residents have been asked by the city to mind flood warnings from the National Weather Service as snowmelt and rain contribute to higher than normal flow in Oak Creek."Low water crossings and driveways may become impassable. Do NOT attempt to cross areas if water is present. Turn around, don't drown," read a statement by the city on its Facebook.

For Black Canyon City residents, a designated evacuation shelter has been set up at the Canon Elementary School at 34630 School Loop Road in Black Canyon City. Residents can call 928-442-5103 with evacuation questions.

Transportation Dept. lists roads closed

The Arizona Department of Transportation has said the following roads remained closed because of flooding or debris:

  • State Route 89A in both directions between Sedona and Flagstaff, mileposts 375-398

  • SR 64 in both directions near the Grand Canyon National Park East entrance, mileposts 244-261

  • SR 377 between Heber and Overgaard and Holbrook, mileposts 1-33

In Maricopa County, the following roads are closed:

  • Tonopah Salome Highway Eastbound & Westbound at Hassayampa Drive

  • Patton Road between 293rd Avenue and Douglas Ranch Road, in both directions

  • Baseline Road Eastbound & Westbound between Johnson Road and 331st Avenue

In Navajo County, the following roads are closed:

  • Forest Service Road 182 from Sky Hi Road to Porter Mountain Road, no estimated time to reopen

  • Highway 377, no estimated time to reopen

  • Farnsworth Ranch Road (Mortensen Wash) in the Pinedale area

  • Rim Road to Pinedale Estates is washed out and is currently closed

More than normal rain, but not unusual

A flood warning that will last until 10 p.m. Wednesday night has been issued for areas along the Agua Fria River in Yavapai County, according to the National Weather Service Flagstaff.

The warning covers Black Canyon City, Arcosanti, Rock Springs and Agua Fria, New Mexico.

Hazards include flooding of low-lying areas and elevated water flow along water ways in the affected areas, the weather service in Flagstaff said.

Flood warnings were issued late Wednesday morning through 5:30 p.m. MST for areas in Navajo County. Affected areas include:

  • Linden Valley Wash

  • Wagon Wheel

  • Fool Hollow Lake

  • Show Low Creek Lake of the Woods

  • Linden Valley Lake

"There is a lot of water flow coming down to the smaller creeks and streams through northern and central Arizona," said Mark O'Malley, a meteorologist with the weather service in Phoenix. "That elevated flow will last for several days so if you are traveling north or east of the Phoenix area, be prepared that you may run into some closed roads and you may need to find a different route."

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"Turn around, don't drown" has been the message of the weather service and Yavapai County officials as the agencies remind drivers that most flood deaths occur in vehicles, urging them to avoid trying to cross flooded roads.

O'Malley said Wednesday's increased rain is the result of a fairly strong Pacific storm system which moved onshore and brought large amounts of moisture over the state. The meteorologist said the rain will make its way east to higher terrain areas before clearing late this Wednesday afternoon.

Though rainfall totals are above normal for the season, they are not unusual and could happen again in the future.

"Up north of the metro there have been about 2-3 inches of rain over the past day," said O'Malley. "That combined with the snowmelt and the moist soil has resulted in some of these rivers and streams flowing at a very high capacity."

The Flood Control District of Maricopa County also cited northern counties for the increased flow. Storm totals north and east of Phoenix were high, and those streams and washes flowed toward the Valley.

Sandbags available near Oak Creek

Sedona also advised residents and businesses near Oak Creek may bring a shovel to fill sandbags at the following locations:

  • City Maintenance Yard (by appointment only; 928-203-5063), 2070 Contractors Road.

  • City lot adjacent to Sedona Red Rock High School, 935 Upper Red Rock Loop Road.

  • Uptown Public Parking Lot, 260 Schnebly Road.

  • Sedona United Methodist Church, 110 Indian Cliffs Road (SR 179).

How to drive near flooded areas

The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends the following safety tips for driving near flooded areas:

  • Don’t risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn’t look deep. It's easy to underestimate the power of running water; just a foot can carry off a vehicle.

  • Avoid areas where water is pooling in travel lanes; if possible, use center lanes and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you.

  • Do not drive around ‘Road Closed’ signs. You risk your life and face being cited under the state’s stupid motorist law.

  • If traffic lights are out, treat an intersection just like a four-way stop.

  • Expect the unexpected. Have extra supplies, including an emergency kit and drinking water, in case you experience an extended highway closure.

  • Storm runoff can loosen boulders and rocks on slopes above highways. Stay alert in rockfall-prone areas.

  • Before you drive, inspect your windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.

  • Turn on your headlights while driving.

  • Avoid sudden braking, which can cause you to slide on the wet pavement. To slow down, take your foot off the gas pedal and brake slowly.

  • The tires of larger vehicles, like trucks and buses, create spray that can lessen visibility, so don’t follow them too closely.

  • Be cautious of hydroplaning. If you feel you are hydroplaning, ease your foot off the gas pedal until you regain traction. Do not brake suddenly. If you are sliding or drifting, gently turn your steering wheel in the direction of your slide.

Arizona residents were encouraged to check ADOT's Facebook and Twitter feeds for real-time updates and road conditions throughout the week. Residents are also encouraged to check the weather service Twitter feeds for their areas to see updates on flood warnings and evacuations.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Oak Creek flooding forces evacuations near Sedona, Camp Verde