PHOENIX (August 10, 2018) – The Arizona Monsoon has brought strong storms and heavy rain to a large portion of the Valley this week and is predicted to continue through tomorrow night. With it comes the potential for flash flooding. The Flood Control District (FCD) of Maricopa County reminds county residents to be flood smart. Downpours may cause localized flooding in washes, riverbeds, roadways and other low-lying areas, putting lives and property in jeopardy if proper safety guidelines are not followed.
Flooded neighborhood following heavy rainfall
Monsoon storms can develop quickly and without warning. Rainfall runoff flows down from higher elevations through a widespread network of normally dry riverbeds and washes. The runoff flows quickly, even through downstream areas where no rain has occurred. These watercourses often run through areas of dense development and may cross roadways where the fast-running water is dangerous to pedestrians and motorists. A water depth of just six inches can sweep a person off the ground and a depth of only two feet can cause a truck or SUV to float.
“The hazards of flash flooding are a matter of life or death,” said Chairman Steve Chucri, FCD Board of Directors. “Steer clear of flooded washes to make this year’s monsoon a safe one for you and your family.”
Some motorists may attempt to drive through a flooded wash or roadway. When the vehicle stalls and becomes stuck in the water, the motorist requires an emergency rescue. Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law,” enacted by the Legislature in 1995, requires any motorist who bypasses a barricade and knowingly enters a flooded public road and becomes stranded may be liable for a portion of the cost of the emergency rescue operation. Not only is driving through a flooded wash life threatening, the penalty is expensive as well.
“It is imperative for county residents to heed flash flood warnings and obey detour signs posted at flooded roadways,” said Michael Fulton, FCD Director. “Failure to do so needlessly puts lives of motorists and public safety personnel at risk.”
Especially dangerous during a rainstorm are dip crossings, where a roadway runs down through the bed of a watercourse instead of over a bridge. In a flash flood situation, law enforcement personnel may not be able to place warning signs at a dip crossing before it becomes flooded. Motorists are advised to drive with extra caution on roadways that pass through dip crossings, especially at night when a flooded wash is harder to spot.
Protecting the value of property from flood damage is another step in being flood smart. Over the past 59 years, FCD has mitigated many of the county’s regional flood hazards. Still, residents are encouraged to purchase flood insurance for homes and businesses, especially for structures located in or near a 100-year floodplain.
Flooding can happen anywhere. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from outside high-risk flood areas. The annual cost of flood insurance is much less than the thousands of dollars to rehabilitate a damaged structure. Flood insurance may be purchased from private insurance companies and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). More information on flood insurance may be obtained at FloodSmart.gov. To determine if a property is located in a floodplain, contact FCD at (602) 506-1501 to speak with a Floodplain Representative or visit FCD.Maricopa.gov.
For tips on staying informed, prepared and flood smart, visit us on Twitter @FloodControlMC for general information (or @FCDespanol), @FCDFloodInfo for weather conditions and #BeFloodSmart for more.
The Flood Control District of Maricopa County reduces risk from flooding so that property damage and loss of life are minimized, economic development is supported in a safe and responsible manner and stormwater is recognized as a resource for the long-term benefit of the community and environment.