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Bad weather coming: Are you ready for flash floods?

Have alternate routes in mind to avoid danger
Posted at 7:40 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 22:40:04-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — With days of hard rain expected, governments and regular people are preparing for the chance of high water.

The Pantano Wash runs right across Harrison Road. It’s such a frequent flooder the City of Tucson installed permanent warning lights it can trigger when sensors upstream show a flash flood is headed this way. That’s in addition to the barricades the city has ready to block the road.

Mike Graham with Tucson Transportation and Mobility says drivers should understand even if a road is dry, a dangerous wave of water could be seconds away from slamming into their cars.

“The same thing happens at Camino de la Tierra in the Rillito, which is another major dip crossing that we frequently close. That water is coming from the Catalina Mountains from Tanque Verde Wash gets into the Rillito and by the time it makes it to Camino de la Tierra it may not even rain there, But this stormwater is coming from other locations.”

Tucson Transportation has a web page warning of flood dangers.

Weather forecasters say the storms we expect over the next few days are a lot like a series of storms that caused serious flooding in July 2006.

That sort of flood threat has homeowners coming to Hi Corbett Field for free sandbags from the City of Tucson.

We asked Ralph Garcia why he was picking up sandbags.

He looked at the young man with him and said, “We were sent by his mother.”

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith said: “That's the way it goes, doesn’t it.”

Garcia: “That's it, that's the only instructions we needed. Here we are.”

Smith: “Now, are there certain things about your property that makes you feel like, oh yeah we need these?”

Garcia: “Yeah, when, when it rains, fairly heavy the street floods and you just need to set a barrier around the perimeter.”

Joseph Cuffari of Pima County Regional Flood Control says it takes planning to be sure sandbags protect your property and don’t send water towards your neighbors.

“So water coming off of your roof, where does it go after that? And then you kind of want to mimic that. You want to place your sandbags, kind of in that general area to help contain and route water away from your structure or away from areas where you don't want it to go.”

He says Flood Control started preparing its areas long before now, working to clean washes to help water flow freely and not back up and spill over the banks.

Tucson Transportation and Pima County Flood Control say they’re concerned that newcomers to our area may have never experienced severe rainy weather Tucson style and may not understand the dangers of flash floods. They say it’s always a good idea to consider the places you drive and have alternate routes so you’re not tempted to drive through water.