In a special session on Tuesday, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the immediate transfer of $5 million from the General Fund’s emergency reserve to the County’s Flood Control District to address the ongoing costs of flood response and mitigation in the Schultz-Pipeline and West Pipeline flood areas.
The funds are necessary for the Flood Control District’s response to severe and repetitive post-wildfire flash flooding in multiple watersheds driven by the Schultz, Tunnel, and Pipeline Fires. This flash flooding impacts the Timberline, Wupatki Trails, and Doney Park areas as well as the west side of Flagstaff. The Flood Control District’s crucial and rapidly implemented mitigation efforts have begun to outpace available funds. The $5 million from the General Fund, considered a loan, will make sure the District’s efforts continue unabated.
“Rather than going into a deficit, this is prudent financial management in order to handle the serious safety risks to people’s lives and the impacts on our communities,” commented Board of Supervisors Chair Patrice Horstman, who first declared a local emergency on July 15, 2022, due to the post-fire flooding.
As the annual monsoon season is expected to last through September, with the possibility of daily rainfall, the County Manager’s Office and Flood Control District believe the continued costs of flood mitigation could exceed the costs of the aftermath of the Schultz Fire in 2010, which were $5.6 million. These areas have already sustained numerous flood events and 17 emergency alerts have been issued.
“Right now, we’re seeing how much our efforts are costing, and I think it’s important for the public to understand that we’re floating these costs now with the hope that we’ll get support from both the federal and state governments to assist. However, we know that the federal government will only cover a portion of some of the costs,” added Vice-Chair Jeronimo Vasquez
Initial expenditures by the Flood Control District prepared the mitigation channels constructed after the Schultz Fire in 2010, which had successfully managed the increased water flow from the Schultz burn scar until the Pipeline Fire. Additional funds have also enabled sandbag production and distribution, with bags being sourced from State and County resources, as well as local volunteer efforts.
“We need upwards of another 500,000 sandbags to meet the needs that have been identified by our engineering teams,” added Flood Control District Administrator Lucinda Andreani, “and we’re closing in on five miles of concrete barrier placed through the past weekend.”