TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County Flood Control District has sent 431 letters to homeowners affected by the Bighorn Fire, warning them of potential flooding.
The fire, which has covered nearly 120,000 acres, has increased potential flooding in a very large swath, from Catalina, to Oro Valley, the Tucson Foothills and Ventana Canyon.
In the letter, the county tells the homeowners the burned areas and changed landscape can “cause flash floods and mudflows to flow faster and with more volume than normal.”
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The county is urging resident do three things:
First, buy flood insurance.
“Get it before the flood hit,” said Brian Jones, Division Manager for the Pima County Flood Control District. “You can’t make it retroactive.”
Secondly, sign up for myalerts.pima.gov, a system which uses the phone to alert homeowners of an impending flood, sometimes with only 10 to 15 minutes to spare at any time day or night.
And finally, the county is urging residents to put together an emergency plan now.
“You don’t want to be at 2:00 in the morning trying to pack your clothes, grab your pet, grab their food, grab your medications,” he said.
The floods will likely be bigger because after a fire all the trees and vegetation, which slowed the flows are gone.
Not only that, but the fire has burned the soil which means it won’t absorb the water.
“It actually repels water,” Jones said. “So it’s like putting a plastic tarp on the ground.”
It’s hard to predict just how severe the flooding might be, but what’s concerning is the fact it doesn’t not have to be a torrential downpour to have a big impact.
“Almost more concerning is that smaller storms that we normally wouldn’t expect to cause problems, can cause problems because of the effects of the burn,” he said.