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Over weekend, volunteers stacked sandbags as city estimates $1.9 million in flooding damage so far

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Although flooding below the 2019 Museum Fire burn scar was limited over the weekend, with rainfall largely missing the area, parts of east Flagstaff bustled with activity as city crews, residents and nearly 300 volunteers prepared for the possibility of more flooding.

The flooding has now caused an estimated $1.94 million in damage to public infrastructure, according to the City of Flagstaff. Meanwhile, county and city crews have now removed an estimated 200 tons of forest debris, silt, rock and trash, washed in by the flood waters, from roads and drainages.

On Saturday, about 290 people volunteered to help residents clean up debris and place sandbag walls.

The volunteer event, organized by United Way of Northern Arizona in conjunction with the county and city, focused on First Street, Main Street and Rose Street in the Sunnyside neighborhood, as well as areas of Grandview Drive, Linda Vista Drive and Paradise Road.

Northern Arizona University sports teams and new NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera also assisted in preparing the area for future flooding.

And although storms also appeared to spare Flagstaff on Monday, more flooding could certainly be in the forecast.

The National Weather Service office in Bellemont has predicted a moderate threat of flooding throughout the early part of this week. That’s the same threat level they listed much of last week when the area saw three flooding events off of the burn scar.

The chance of rain over the area on Tuesday was 63% and on Wednesday, the listed chance of rain was 66%, according to weather officials.

NWS Meteorologist Cynthia Kobold said they are expecting this week to be even wetter than last week. The high pressure system that they use to help track the monsoons appears to have positioned itself "in the sweet spot," Kobold said. 

Kobold added residents should expect more widespread storms as opposed to the scattered showers experienced the last several days. The National Weather Service forecast calls for at least a 60% chance of rain in the Flagstaff area through next Monday.

With flooding probable, county and city officials are encouraging residents to stay vigilant and not remove any sandbags that may have been placed. The County has about 75,000 sandbags stockpiled and available to residents who may want to build walls near their homes, or reinforce existing walls.

Sandbags are available in the south parking lot of Coconino High School located at 2801 N. Izabel St. near the Hal Jensen Recreation Center and at the Coconino County Health and Human Services at 2625 King St.

Crews from the Arizona Conservation Corps and the American Conservation Experience, as well as the Flagstaff Wildland Fire Crew, are also working to fill additional sandbags while Team Rubicon, a nonprofit disaster relief agency comprised of military veterans, is helping with shoring up sandbag walls for the elderly and disabled residents.

Such residents may call 928-679-8525 to seek assistance.

On Saturday, Flagstaff Rep. Tom O’Halleran and a representative from Sen. Mark Kelly’s office met with local elected officials and city and flood emergency commanders to tour areas impacted by the flooding.

The Emergency Operations Center has also requested a National Guard Engineering & Operations team to be deployed to Flagstaff to assist with responding to impacts to the City of Flagstaff’s storm water infrastructure. As the area experiences more flooding, that team will be able to assist clearing debris and dirt from inlets and drainages to prepare for additional storms.

Last week, the city, county and state all issued emergency declarations in response to the flooding.

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

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