Campaign encourages people to 'Be Flood Aware Prepare'
Campaign encourages people to 'Be Flood Aware Prepare'
Arizona City sits in the Santa Cruz River Basin in south-central Arizona. It is an area that floods when monsoon or winter rains pour from the sky. With more than 24 significant floods in the past 100 years, and various levels of flooding every year, Arizona City and its residents must deal with water on their streets, and sometimes in their homes.
Tonto Basin is home to a small community in the Tonto Creek valley in northeastern Arizona with many homes surrounded by low, usually dry washes.
“Tonto Basin in Gila County is a rural community where a large dry river bisects the community; and the only access for the East side residents is across three crossings through the dry riverbed,” said Todd Whitney, Gila County’s Emergency Manager. “During the winter snow melt and monsoon seasons, large volumes of water flow into the river creating extremely dangerous flooding conditions for residents. During these flooding conditions the crossing roads are closed and residents on the East side become isolated from the rest of the county and have no access to basic services."
Arizona City and Tonto Basin are just two Arizona communities that experience flooding. Flooding is the most common hazard in the state, with 40 – 100 incidents each year. Since 2010, Arizona has experienced 16 severe floods, damaging many homes and infrastructure across the state.
Arizona floods are typically due to monsoon storms, winter storms, or as a result of heavy rain in a region damaged by fire. Weather patterns, environmental changes, and community developments can also cause flooding in a community.
Because flooding is an expensive hazard that is prevalent statewide, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs encourages Arizonans to understand their flood risk. A new campaign, Be Flood Aware: Prepare promotes flood awareness to those living in flood-prone areas.
Be Flood Aware: Prepare encourages people to understand their flood risk, prepare accordingly, and mitigate against a potential flooding event.
Residents can identify if their property or home is at risk for flooding. Flood-hazard maps show flood risk in every community. Flood risk is based on several factors; rainfall, topography, flood control measures, river-flow and tidal surge data, along with changes in the community due to new construction and development.
The National Flood Insurance Program’s Floodsmart.gov website has flood maps for every community to help homeowners determine if they live in a flood plain.
It is important to measure the potential cost of a flood. Homeowners can calculate the cost of potential damage in their home based on water levels and home size. A few inches of floodwater can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from financial loss. Flood losses are not typically covered under renter and homeowner's insurance policies. An insurance provider can discuss different types of flood insurance coverage. A 30-day waiting period is in effect before flood insurance becomes active.
Another important step in being flood aware is to prepare the home against flood waters.
- Calculate how much the home and belongings are worth. Take pictures and save important files in a waterproof container - include jewelry and art appraisals.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
- Elevate the furnace, water heater, washer, dryer and electric panel (12 inches if possible).
- Anchor fuel tanks.
- Install check valves to prevent water from backing up into drains.
- Construct barriers to prevent water from entering the home, if possible, and seal the walls.
Anywhere it rains, it can flood. People who prepare their families for potential emergencies are better able to respond to, and recover from a disaster. All Arizonans should take action and prepare accordingly.
Write a family communication plan so everyone knows what to do in an emergency. Write down important phone numbers, including an out-of-town contact. Determine several evacuation routes away from home, by car and by foot. Practice evacuating. Download a family communication plan template.
Know the local emergency plans. Emergency management offices, businesses and schools should all have plans.
Build a 72-hour emergency supplies kit. People may need to survive on their own after a flood. The kit should contain enough food, water, medication and other necessary supplies for each family member to get by for three days. Don't forget a kit for pets. Download an emergency supplies kit checklist.
Be Flood Aware. Prepare. campaign runs in the two communities of Arizona City and Tonto Basin this year, with the goal to run in other communities across the state in the future.
“Flooding is a historical and continual challenging emergency for the Arizona City Fire District. It is important for the residents and children of Arizona City to be prepared for potential flood emergency because prevention is the key to our continual success,” said Jeff Heaton, Arizona City’s Fire Chief. “I believe through the power of prevention and education, we will be able to strive to have our community in the upper quartile of preparedness when we are measured against progressive communities and cities.”
For more information on what to do during and after a flood, visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network’s (AzEIN) flood hazard page.