County Keeps Close Watch On Receding Tonto Creek

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Tonto Creek is still running at about 2,000 cubic feet per second, but that's a substantial improvement from the levels of this past weekend's storm. Some reports had more than 30,000 cubic feet per second running down the creek.

"The water has receded tremendously," said Mariano Gonzalez Jr., deputy director of Gila County Emergency Management. While things are stable, Gonzalez said the Gila County Sheriff's Office still has the crossing closed.

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The old vehicle residents of Tonto Basin used for emergency crossings of the creek is being replaced with a newer, more sturdy vehicle from the Tonto Apache Tribe. The tribal leadership is using the funds from gaming, earmarked for community projects, to purchase the vehicle for the community, the Tonto Creek south of Payson. The tribe's gaming compact with the state requires some funds from casino revenues to be set aside for projects in communities neighboring the Tonto Apache Reservation.

"Not even a big vehicle can make it across," Sheriff John Armer said.

A Red Cross shelter was opened to accommodate about 20 people who were asked to evacuate the Lazy JR RV Park in Tonto Basin around 4:43 a.m. Saturday. The shelter closed around 2 p.m. on Saturday, Gonzalez said. Most of the people impacted were staying with friends or relatives.

"Not everyone left, but they were all packed up and ready to go," Armer said.

He said when he visited the area Saturday, there was still water up around some of the propane tanks and patios in the trailer park.

"Only about four or five units actually had water in them and the people left," said Keith McAllister who manages the park for Roger and Terry King. "No one had any damage. They were ready for it and had moved things up out of the way. We didn't have a problem with our roads either."

He said the water seemed to start going down around noon on Saturday.

Gonzalez said while his office is still monitoring the situation, there were no requests for additional services Sunday. However, groceries and prescription medicines were being delivered by members of the GCSO lake patrol.

"We were able to go from Cholla Bay to Indian Point," Gonzalez said.

Armer said Deputies Daryl Stubbs, John France and Jeff Slider were providing the service.

Armer had 12 members of the GCSO assigned to the Tonto Basin flooding.

"The Gila County Health Services had Matt Ballinger helping out at the Red Cross center," Armer said. "The Red Cross has done a great job for both the residents and my people."

Another storm is expected to move into the Rim country later this week, according to weather reports.

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