FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - An emergency flood protection project is underway in Flagstaff and construction crews are rushing to finish parts of it before the next big rainfall.
Several neighborhoods have been hit hard by flooding this summer the monsoon season still has more than a month to go.
This is the first active monsoon season since the Museum Fire two years ago and downstream Flagstaff is seeing up to ten times more water than usual.
The amount of water is more than the canals and washes in the area can handle and that's where the project comes in.
Flood protection project is welcome news to residents
Men and women in hard hats are measuring, hauling and digging as fast as they can to finish parts of the much-needed project.
Neighbors are happy this is getting done because flooding has caused havoc in Northern Arizona.
Jody Sandoval is a resident in the area and says, "It’s really sad. Looks like a war zone. I mean it’s filthy, it’s dirty. A lot of people have beautiful property and it’s just ruined."
This work is being done at the foot of Mount Elden where rain runoff becomes the first sign of flooding. Crews are shoring up the sides with boulders after carving out canals that will be able to withstand the amount of water flow the area has been seeing.
"So it’s kind of a sweet spot. Not too narrow, not too wide. We want to bring down water and the settlement," explained Christopher Tressler, a Coconino County engineer.
The Museum Fire not only torched trees, but it also baked the soil. The rainwater water won’t soak into the soil, sending floodwaters into neighborhoods downstream.
It may be several more years before the burn scar is fully healed.
"The water coming off the forest is more than we can handle. And we expect to see more flooding but we’re trying to do everything we can to decrease it," Tressler said.
The 400 homes in the Mount Elden flood plane are now fortified by sandbags and concrete barriers.
Even that might not be enough for what Flagstaff had coming during this monsoon season.
"I think it’s good that you’re doing it now. I wish they would’ve done it sooner. We knew about this two years ago. And we were told this two years ago. It was loud and no one really believed it. And then just kind of happened. It’s crazy," Sandoval said.
The city and county are looking into dozens of more projects like this in the near future, everything from more underground storm drains to digging out basins.
Most of the projects are paid for by state and federal tax dollars.
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