Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flagstaff becoming the city of sandbags

Coconino County public works have erected jersey barriers (concrete wall segments) around nearly 25% of the homes in areas affected by the July 20 flood.

Many more homeowners on the east side of the city have created sandbag barriers around their buildings and across yards or at the upstream point of their properties.

The homes were built on an alluvial fan where sheet flooding is the normal flow pattern. Most homeowners were unaware of the hazard and were caught unprepared when the heavy rains rushed down the slopes above that had been severely burned by the recent Schultz fire.

It's expected that revegetation of the burned area with grasses and low plants will take 3 years or so, during which time the homes are at higher risk of renewed flooding and debris flows.

A quick drive through neighborhoods offers a wide range of homeowner responses. Some have sandbag barriers completely surrounding their homes or outbuildings. Others are blocking doors only, or have one side of their house bagged. We saw lots of barriers that were partially built.

We heard that some residents are worried that their neighbors barriers will divert flood waters onto their properties and into their homes.

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