Post-wildfire flood mitigation project aims to protect vulnerable Flagstaff homes

The goal of the project is to help mitigate extreme flooding and debris flow from the 2019 Museum Fire burn scar.
Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 4:43 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The second and final phase of the Parkway Sediment Basin started just a few days ago in Flagstaff. This county project builds on the city of Flagstaff’s Spruce Wash flood mitigation efforts. The goal of the project is to help mitigate extreme flooding and debris flow from the 2019 Museum Fire burn scar. Past flooding has gone into homes on Grand View Drive and surrounding neighborhoods.

Now, homes in the area have sandbags on their front laws and around their homes, some even reaching past 6 feet tall. Dennis Revering has lived in the same house in the neighborhood for 32 years and has sandbags protecting his home. He said the neighborhood has always dealt with flooding but post-Museum Fire, it got worse. “We had that burn scar and we had that thunderstorm park on top of it. We got a lot of water,” Revering said. “My wife has been talking for two years now ‘when will we get rid of these sandbags?’”

So, to combat this problem, the county and the city have been working on multiple flood mitigation projects in the Spruce Wash area. During the first phase, three sediment basins were built further upstream and alluvial fans that break up debris were restored. As water and debris flow down, the basins will catch debris and slow water, so when it does hit neighborhood streets, it does clog culverts or get into homes. “This is the end of the line for the sediment deposit and from here, it’ll go downhill into the city of Flagstaff’s flood mitigation projects,” District supervisor Patrice Horstman said.

Supervisor Horstman oversees the district where the post-wildfire flooding occurred. She said she’s hopeful this project will give people some ease. “We cannot guarantee there will not be any flooding, but we are substantially mitigating the reduction of flooding for these neighbors, and that’s very gratifying.”

Revering is hopeful too. “What I’m looking forward to is then finishing and I think it would justify getting rid of these sandbags,” Revering said. This project is expected to be done by the end of the year. The city hopes to finish additional flood mitigation projects in these neighborhoods by 2026.

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