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Biden issues major disaster declaration for northern Arizona flash flooding
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Biden issues major disaster declaration for northern Arizona flash flooding

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Anissa Doten calls for more sand bags as she and friends fight to reinforce the defenses around her home while rising flood water beats against the barrier. For the fourth time in as many weeks her neighborhood flooded as monsoon rains fell on the Museum Fire burn area. Once again Doten, with the help of family and friends, was able to keep the water at bay.

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration Monday after monsoon rains caused a series of flash floods across areas of northern Arizona this summer.

The declaration comes after a bipartisan group of Arizona leaders sent a letter to the Biden administration asking for federal assistance last week.

“The intensity of this monsoon season and anticipated future storms in the region have severely affected communities, with streets where children once played transformed into storm channels by concrete barriers and sandbags. Without federal support, these communities will be unable to recover,” read the letter, signed by both Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly and eight members of Arizona’s Congressional delegation.

That included Rep. Tom O’Halleran, who toured areas of east Flagstaff that have been impacted by flooding and spoke with residents on Saturday.

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The declaration should open the door to federal funding being made available to the state as well as local and tribal governments, and certain non-profit groups, within Coconino, Navajo and Apache counties that experienced flooding from July 22 to July 24, according to a media release.

With the declaration, emergency work responding to and repairing damage from the floods may now see some federal reimbursement coming from FEMA.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide, according to the Biden administration.

Areas of Flagstaff and Coconino County have seen several extreme flash floods throughout this summer, both on and off of the 2019 Museum Fire burn scar. Several of those flash floods came as a result of storms that were at one time considered once-in-a-generation phenomena.

It is unclear whether federal aid might be able to apply to local floods outside of the July 22-24 time range.

FEMA officials did not respond to questions prior to publication. 

Adrian Skabelund can be reached by phone at (928) 556-2261, by email at or on Twitter at @AdrianSkabelund. 


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