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A $90M project has begun to reduce post-wildfire flooding in Coconino County neighborhoods

Construction workers have begun a major flood mitigation project north of Flagstaff. This follows two devastating wildfires last summer that left nearly 1,500 homes at risk of devastating flooding.

Workers are digging a pair of huge canals in the Wupatki Trails area to channel floodwaters. Last summer, this was one of the hardest-hit areas under the eastern slopes of the San Francisco Mountains. In the nearby Coconino National Forest, 11 workers of about 100 men are working to restore alluvial fans and perform other mitigation work. All of that funding comes from over $90 million approved by Congress in last year’s Omnibus Spending Bill.

“My wish is for the people who live here, who live in this house, that the next hour of heavy rain on the hills won’t ruin their lives any more. ‘, said Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly advocated funding and toured some of the work on Thursday.

Workers dig a large canal for floodwaters in the Wupatki Trails area on Thursday, May 25, 2023. This is part of a $90 million project to protect neighborhoods from post-wildfire flooding caused by the 2022 pipeline fires.

So far, workers have repaired four of the nine mountaintop watersheds that were burned down by the 26,000-acre pipeline fire, but Coconino County officials are preparing for this year’s monsoon season. There is considerable work left to do, he said. Floods threaten an estimated $1.3 billion worth of assets in the region.

Coconino County flood managers have brought together many of the same construction professionals who worked on flood mitigation after the 2010 Schultz fire.

Coconino County Oversight Board Chair Patrice said, “What you are seeing today is that recovery is progressing. We have achieved the essential support we need to grow in record time,” said Coconino County Supervisory Board Chair Patrice. Horstmann.

Tunnel fires last year destroyed 31 houses and forced about 1,000 people to evacuate. About two months later, a pipeline fire erupted and residents were evacuated again. The fire caused 45 subsequent major floods, repeatedly closing Highway 89 and He 180 to traffic.

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