Residents of Sunflower prepare for the oncoming flood

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PAYSON, Ariz. -- Residents of the area impacted by the Sunflower Fire continue to worry about their property.

The problem now is the certainty of flooding since the flames robbed the mountains of trees and other vegetation. 

Mary Payne has had to remove her beloved horses and mules because she's had to take down fences since they'll cause flood waters to back up.  She's also had to get rid of most of her turkeys and chickens and allow the few that remain to run free so that they won't drown when the flood waters come.

Inside, Payne's removed furniture and put it in storage and has moved most other household items and precious pictures upstairs.  She said like most Arizonans she's always prayed for rain, but now she prays the rain won't come. 

Downstream, Jeff Haught, Bob Zavecz and John Whitney have spent around $80,000 digging a deeper channel in Sycamore Creek in an effort to protect their homes and wells. Like Payne, they've put sandbags and cement barriers in place to keep the flood waters back. 

They'd all like those who visit public lands to remember there are those who call those areas home and suffer long after the flames of wildfires are put out.

The Sunflower Fire is thought to have been started by firearms use. The Valley man accused of starting the fire is awaiting trial.