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Evacuations ordered after flooding in small Arizona town

Navajo Nation officials ordered evacuations Sunday for some residents of Chinle after floodwaters filled washes and overflowed berms and dirt dams.

They said many residents are refusing to leave, however, because they want to protect their property and livestock.

Tribal officials said water from Tsaile Lake and Wheatfields Lake was flowing down the Chinle Wash.

The tribe declared a state of emergency Jan. 19 after heavy snow hit parts of the vast reservation, which covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, leaving flooding and muddy roads.

Recent snowmelts then filled lakes and led to water runoffs in Chinle, which has a population of about 4,500.

Navajo Nation police and Apache County crews were trying to relocate residents of the small town to higher ground.

Drones were being used to monitor the flooding and volunteers were filling sandbags for residents.

Authorities said no fatalities have been reported.

Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.