Chapter official wants emergency assessment now

By Kathy Helms, Diné Bureau, Gallup Independent, FEBRUARY 25, 2008

BLACK MESA — Glenna Chee, an official with Black Mesa Chapter, received a distress call Sunday evening from a mother stuck somewhere on the road near Kitsillie, but there was no way she could get there to help.

Dorothy Yazzie, a teacher at Chinle, accompanied by several family members, plowed a path to her parents’ home Sunday morning to remove her 82-year-old father and take him to Black Mesa Clinic near Piñon for medical treatment.

There may be others in the area in need of help — a dialysis patient comes immediately to Chee’s mind — but treacherous road conditions have prevented those assessments from being done.

“The Emergency Management people really need to look at our place, to come out and assess our community,” she said, but getting there is going to be a problem. Like others in the area, she believes a helicopter is the only option.

“A person called me around 6 p.m. She was really hollering and saying, ‘I need help, I’m stranded. I’m with my family, I don’t know what to do.’ I just told her, ‘You need to go to the nearest home that you see and you need to take your family there.’”

Chee said there is a dialysis patient in the area who travels the road from Rough Rock up the Mesa to go to Chinle for treatment.

“I understand that’s impassable. I’ve been calling around. We have CHR and I can’t reach them. I’m just worried about that person, so if they can do an assessment for us ASAP, it’s an emergency,” she said.

Yazzie, a teacher at Chinle, went with relatives to the home of her elderly parents who were snowed in near Kitsillie. “There was almost a foot of snow out there. It was melting and we had to make a path just to get to the house. My dad was sick and we had to get them out of there.

“We left the sheep out there. We just threw some hay out for them and just took my parents out of there. I had to take some little baby goats out with them too, because they didn’t want to leave them behind. My dad is 82 and my mom is 80,” she said.

“My dad was having pain in his abdomen and I said, ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ My dad wanted to take his truck and I said, ‘No way. It’s going to be sitting in the mud till spring!’
Chee said that in Piñon and Chinle, there’s hardly any snow on the ground, “but when you go up into the mountains, up into the hills, it is terrible. The snow is like 8 to 9 inches and it’s mud at the bottom.”

Near Kitsillie on Sunday she saw people trying to walk out to the main road.

“Myself, my niece, and another niece, we followed each other. Going up there, we stuck at two places; coming back out, we were really stuck at one spot for like two hours. We almost didn’t make it.”

On Navajo 8065, there is one wash that is almost impassable she said.

“On each side it is like 8 feet down. The melting snow and the mud is making another runoff from the top. It was so scary when we were crossing that. When that goes, nobody can cross — everybody’s stranded because there’s no detour. The other side is the mountain and there is no road to the mountainside.”

There’s only one place to cross Oraibi Wash, she said, and that has been closed for several years. “We have been asking for that road to be fixed, but it’s going very slow.”





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