Oak Creek Canyon prepares for potential monsoon flooding

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by Jayson Chesler

Video report by Karen Brown

Posted on June 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

OAK CREEK CANYON, Ariz. -- The Sedona Fire District and Coconino County tested an emergency siren system that's helping fire crews prepare for the worst following the Slide Fire earlier this year. 

The siren is part of preparations for monsoon season. Fire crews want to be ready for wildfires and flooding whenever the rain starts falling.

Monsoon season could bring both flash flooding and erosion to the area, particularly to the parts that were burned by the Slide Fire. The Slide Burned Area Emergency Response team has started seeding and laying down mulch in the burned areas.

The seed and mulch isn't just to prevent flooding, it's also part of a long-term plan to help regrow the burned forest. According to BAER, the mulch will protect the top layer of soil and the nutrients within it that forest life needs to grow in addition to slowing down and helping absorb flowing water.

Preparing Oak Creek Canyon for monsoons should take a few weeks, but it could take longer if there are interruptions. The very same storms and wind that the process is designed to protect residents from can interfere with its progress.

Until the seeding and mulching is completed, residents of Coconino and Yavapai counties are encouraged to the reverse 9-1-1 system known as CodeRED. CodeRED can give warning messages to residents whenever there's a storm of emergency.

As for the sirens, officials said anyone who hears them go off should stay calm and head for higher ground to stay safe from flooding.

The hope from BAER is to not have to worry about debris flow and flooding in three years, but until then the sirens and emergency services could be invaluable.

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