Originally Published: July 7, 2017 6:02 a.m.
Monsoon weather is on the horizon, and with it comes high winds, dust and severe downpours.
In the wake of the Goodwin Fire, this is a major concern for areas downstream of burnt areas, such as Mayer and Poland Junction.
It is for this reason that emergency agencies in Yavapai County decided to host a community meeting on Wednesday, July 5, to specifically address post-fire flooding potential.
When an area is burned, a few factors contribute to an increased potential for flooding.
One is a decrease in vegetation to slow stormwater runoff, said Lynn Whitman, District Engineer with the Yavapai County Flood Control District, during the meeting.
Another is referred to as hydrophobic soils. Whitman described this as post-fire soil that tends to repel rather than absorb water.
“So we’ve got a bunch of things working against us,” Whitman said.
Rain is in the forecast for next week, with a 50 percent chance early in the week.
The Flood Control District is currently running some models to determine exactly how significant the increase in flooding could be, but preliminary results indicate there will be an increase in runoff.
“If you are in the floodplain now, you’ll likely see more flooding than you would have before the fire happened,” Whitman said.
In anticipation of this, the county is recommending that property owners assess their properties for the potential to increase stormwater runoff flow capacity and be prepared by cleaning out culverts, clearing debris and planning a safe exit route in the event of flooding conditions.
“You basically want to make as much room for the water to come through as possible,” Whitman said.
For areas or assets needing protection, the county has stocked several locations with sand and sandbags for residents of affected areas to pick up for free if they desire. Residents must bring their own shovels.
Poland Junction -- At Junction Christian Fellowship, 6555 Highway 69, Mayer.
Mayer -- At the Fire Station located at 10001 Miami St., Mayer.
Spring Valley -- 13802 S. Burton Road, Spring Valley.
Dan Reiss, area lieutenant with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, said the quickest and best way for YCSO to get people emergency information alerts is through Code Red, the department’s emergency notification system. This can let residents know when there is a flood warning in their area and when an evacuation is recommended.
If flooding occurs, residents are advised to go around low water crossings, not across.
“The reason why is those low water crossings could be impacted,” said Denny Foulk, Yavapai County Emergency Manager. “There could be debris and the water could be a little bit deeper than what you think it is.”
The phrase the county likes to use in regard to this is “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
Anyone with questions regarding flood safety can contact the Yavapai County Emergency Management office at 928-771-3321.
The Yavapai Control Flood Control District encourages anyone downstream of the burnt areas to access their flood insurance policy, according to a news release.
Flood insurance is available to everyone in Yavapai County.
For those without flood insurance, now is an opportune time, Whitman said.
Normally, there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect. However, that waiting period is waived for flooding that occurs as a result of increase flow from a fire that started on federal land. The waiver is applied at the time of loss, not purchase.
Though some insurance companies require an elevation certificate, special rates can be applied now and adjusted later if the owner provides an elevation certificate within 60 days.