Foothills neighbors staying positive amid monsoon floods and mud

Hank Harlow adds fresh dirt to landscaping that was swept away by floodwater.
Posted at 10:26 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 01:26:38-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Below the Bighorn Fire burn scar, flooding and debris flows are becoming a monsoon trend for one neighborhood in the Catalina Foothills.

This is the second summer heavy storms combined with the fragile mountainside have led to water, mud and boulders flowing down Havasu Road.

Hank Harlow says it only took 25 minutes for the water to wash away the corner of his yard near Havasu and Columbus.

“It’s re-landscaped my yard for me,” he quipped.

Though Harlow says since the heavy storms in the past week, Pima County crews helped move large boulders out of the intersection.

Harlow adds that the section of landscaping that was washed away is actually county property, but he still feels compelled to use his shovel and wheelbarrow to add fresh dirt to re-beautify the corner.

“Your backyard is where you live,” he said. “And then the front yard is where your neighbors visit. So when they walk by, it’s just kind of a nice thing to see a nice front yard. So when it gets altered by these flash floods, which it’s gonna do, then it gives me a little workout.”

Harlow wasn’t the only one working on Thursday. The road and adjacent creek bed were filled with contractors responding to storm damage, working on sewer or electrical issues.

Some homes are dealing with more damage than others.

KGUN 9 caught up with Enid Whittaker after seeing the mud inside her home last week.

“I’m putting one step in front of the other, one foot in front of the other,” she said Thursday. "And I don’t know what’s gonna happen to tell you the truth.”

There’s been more heavy rain this week, keeping a pond on her driveway.

“No more [water] came in, but that doesn’t say that tomorrow, there’s not gonna be another storm that’ll come in again,” she said.

Whittaker says her friends gave her a place to stay and helped box up some belongings.

That’s helping her stay afloat and stay positive.

“I mean, it takes a lot to go through something like this,” she said. “It’s devastating. Cause you’ve lost what you’ve been living with for many, many years. But you can’t cave in. You have to keep going.”

Ryan Fish is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9 and comes to the Sonoran Desert from California’s Central Coast after working as a reporter, sports anchor and weather forecaster in Santa Barbara. Ryan grew up in the Chicago suburbs, frequently visiting family in Tucson. Share your story ideas and important issues with Ryan by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.