Posted at: 05/20/2014 5:38 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4
In Upper Fruitland, a detour sign on both ends of Navajo Route 367, the old Navajo 36, has become a permanent part of the landscape.
Alvis Kee, projects coordinator for Upper Fruitland chapter said, "It has been well over six months for now."
Beyond the detour, the road isn’t just closed: It's gone.
"They were supposed to fix this," said Lenorra Williams, vice president of the Upper Fruitland chapter.
The question is who is "they" and when will the work be done.
The Upper Fruitland chapter claims the problem started even before September’s heavy rain. They claim the Bureau of Reclamation contracted the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority to put in a water pipe under the Bureau of Indian affairs road. The construction project weakened the earth and when the irrigation canal that runs along the road overflowed, the failure occurred.
It's more than just 4,000 people in the Upper Fruitland chapter who are affected. Farmers downstream in the Nenahnezad and San Juan Chapters say their irrigation water is cut off until the road is fixed.
"I'm kinda upset about it," said Lorraine Smallcanyon. She and her family make their living farming corn, squash and melons, which is impossible without water.
"We really need it. We just got our hay going and everything. Now we have to haul water. I don’t know how we are going to do it."
There are two areas of Navajo Route 367 that have washed out; a second smaller area has funding for a fix from FEMA. However, they're still waiting for approval to get the work started.
All parties involved who did the original work on the road or have authority will be meeting this week to plan the next steps.