With Monsoon storms on the way, Flowing Wells residents raise concerns about trashed washes and blocked tunnels
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Heaps of trash, overgrown grass, and makeshift walls blocking canals. With the first Monsoon storm expected to roll in this weekend, Flowing Wells residents are raising the alarm about a flooding hazard they say has been piling up for months.
Those living at a small mobile home park near Fort Lowell Road and Stone Avenue say they are at a breaking point. Residents take care for their properties, but walking behind their homes is like taking a trip to the landfill.
“You just start to get afraid to walk out of your house at night,” said Jean Schade.
Schade has lived next to the Cemetery Wash for 23 years. It’s where a homeless encampment has been growing since March.
“It’s never been this bad before,” said Schade. “Someone set a fire near Bonnie’s place. We have had people come into [the mobile home park] in the middle of the night and rattle doorknobs; scares the heck out of people! We have had people jump the fence and actually chase us.”
Neighbors say they are now dealing with rats on their properties and cleaning up used needles along the Cemetery Wash fence.
Now, mattresses, couches and bulky items are presenting another danger.
“I am concerned that we are going to get flooded out,” said Schade, “but I am also concerned it’s going to block the tunnels.”
The Cemetery Wash feeds the Flowing Wells wash, which flows into the Santa Cruz River.
Kevin Daily, the president of the Flowing Wells Neighborhood Association, showed us three other bridges where water blockage is a possibility.
Daily says even if the garbage and debris doesn’t cause flooding, it will certainly pollute the waterways.
“Evicting people from washes regardless of whether we have housing or not is actually not controversial,” said Daily. “City code 26-11 that says you cannot build in washes and you cannot modify the wash. No one is supposed to be living in the washes, it’s not safe. We need personal accountability and that takes leadership.”
A Homeless Outreach Team goes out to washes and tunnels to warn people ahead of monsoons. Many Flowing Wells residents want to know why their washes have not been cleared out.
Schade says she made several attempts to get city leaders and police officers involved, but says her requests have largely been ignored.
KOLD News 13 reached out to the Tucson Police Department, Mayor Regina Romero’s Office, Council Member Kevin Dahl’s Ward 3 Office and the Pima County Regional Flood Control District for comment. We are waiting to hear back.
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