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Pima County's flooding preparedness and infrastructure

Posted: 11:17 PM, Sep 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-01 12:58:58Z

35 years ago Tropical Storm Octave made its mark on southern Arizona. Today the state is bracing the impact of Hurricane Rosa's arrival, which could hit some parts of the state like Octave did in 1983.

Pima County revamped it's infrastructure in the 80's -- much of what the Flood Control District has done came from the damage made back in 1983's tropical storm.

"We've enacted really strict design standards for soil-cement bank protection. New standards fro bridges and our Flood Plain Management Ordinance has really strengthened over the years," said Suzanne Shields, the director of the Pima County Flood Control District.

Local, state and federal funding helped the county with rebuilding and putting those new designs in place. Those reinforcements ended up being tested in 2006 with the passage of two tropical systems.

"Unlike 1983 where we lost 150 acres of land plus the homes and things that were on it, and bridges, we had no damage from that 2006 storm event," said Sheilds.

It ended up protecting about $500 million of property. Today there are even more sophisitcated systems to predict weather conditions and emergency management continues to become stronger. This keeps the district confident that the county can withstand the remnants of Hurricane Rosa.

"Back then we didn't have anything so it there wasn't any radar, we didn't know the storm was coming to us. Now we can at least know how to prepare. And I think with the improvements we've done, with the major rivers, we're in a lot better position to protect people's lives," said Sheilds.