The Coconino County Board of Supervisors declared a State of Emergency July 20 following heavy rainfall including one record-breaking storm July 18 that caused major flooding in the Timberline neighborhood located in the Schultz Pass area in northern Flagstaff.
Numerous homes and roads were damaged by the flood waters and debris they carried. In under two hours the storm dumped between 5.35 inches and 5.94 inches.
This heavy amount of rain followed two other heavy monsoon events that occurred in the days just before on July 14 and 16.
Brian Klimowski, the National Weather Service Meteorologist for Northern Arizona explained this monsoon season has already seen higher than average rainfall.
“The airport is where they take the official measurements.” said Klimowski. “However, being as many storms in the area are isolated, the airport sometimes misses storms. But even taking that into account the airport in Flagstaff has seen 2.16 inches of rainfall as of July 22.”
He added that the average amount of rainfall at the airport by this point in the monsoon season was 1.81 inches.
Across town the averages only get higher, especially in northern parts of Flagstaff.
“From the Cheshire area going all the way east towards the mall area, depending on the measurement station, the rainfall totals are between four and six inches already,” Klimowski said.
As for the cleanup and repair efforts following the flood, Todd Whitney, Director of Emergency Management for Coconino County, stated that they are still ongoing.
“The public works department has had crews out every day and the drainage channels have been cleared of debris,” said Whitney. “But there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Some areas have yet to be fully assessed for damage. Preliminary damage assessments have been conducted but Federal Emergency Management Agency damage assessment guidelines dictate that inspectors must wait until the area is sufficiently dry following a flood before conducting in-depth assessments.
According to the National Weather Service, the Flagstaff area will experience a short break from the monsoon season this as a heat wave is predicted to hit Arizona at the towards the end of July, forcing heat advisories and excessive heat warnings across the entire state.
After the heat wave, the monsoons are predicted to return, but some of the more serious road and structural damage repairs will be done Whitney elaborated.
“The drainage channels were obviously a priority, but we will have to continue more major repairs as the weather allows it,” Whitney said.
When it comes to the total cost of damages from the flood, the amount is still being tallied and will not be released until all damage assessments are completed.
“It’s probably going to be several weeks at least before repairs are completed, but both public works crews along with private contractors will continue construction as they can in order to finish the cleanup work,” Whitney said.
Whitney added the weather itself will play a role in how long reconstruction takes as scattered and evening thunderstorms are predicted throughout the end of July.
Despite the fact that none of the other storms are predicted to drop the record-setting amount of rain the July 18 storm let loose, Brian Klimowski still urged everyone to take precautions during monsoon storms.
“People need to remember to be safe out there with the monsoons still,” Klimowski said. “There are a lot of dangers. From lightning to flash floods, people need to remember to take precautions and seek shelter during these storms.”
Any Flagstaff residents living in the flood area whose property was damaged can report it to the Coconino County Call Center at 928-213-2990, so that county officials can assist those affected by the flood and help them get resources needed for recovery. This will also allow for county inspectors to conduct a more complete damage assessment.
The county has also set up a sandbag site located at the old Tumbleweed Store site on Highway 89 at the highway’s junction with Copeland Lane.
Despite the above average rainfall and floods, locals still welcome the precipitation following the extremely dry winter Flagstaff saw.