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Flagstaff Neighborhoods Struggle To Recover From Floods

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Melissa Sevigny
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Arizona received federal disaster funding to help repair the damage from flash floods in neighborhoods below the Museum Fire scar in Flagstaff. The money can be used for emergency work and repairs to city infrastructure, but it can’t be given to homeowners. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, some residents say they can no longer live safely in their homes.

Water damage and mold have forced some homeowners and renters out of their houses. Accessibility is another concern because of sandbags and barricades.

Anisa Doten moved out of her house after the flooding. She says it’s a frustrating situation: "As far as people caught in this catch-22 of owning of home that a) you can’t sell and b) you can’t live in safely, there doesn’t seem to be much help for that. We seem like we’re hung out to dry."

Dawn Rodriguez spent thousands of dollars to repair her family home, which flooded three times this summer. She says some of her neighbors have abandoned their houses, but others aren’t able to leave, especially those in low-income housing.  "Where are they going to go? Where are we going to go?" she asks. "I mean, we’re talking about throwing it out there to maybe sell the house, but who’s going to buy it?"

Engineers met last month to discuss long-term options for lessening the flood risk. In the meantime officials with Coconino County and the City of Flagstaff urge residents to leave their sandbags in place. They warn the threat of flooding will remain in the area below the fire scar for years to come.

More information:

Museum Flood Area Frequently Asked Questions (fact sheet from Flagstaff/Coconino County)

More information about the Museum Fire floods (Coconino County webpage)

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Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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