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Cococino County Supervisors approve siren system for Museum flood area

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Angela Gervasi
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Sandbags were stacked in front of most homes and businesses throughout the Sunnyside, Grandview and Paradise neighborhoods in east Flagstaff during the summer of 2021. Officials say flooding is likely to continue during future monsoon storms as runoff from the Museum Fire burn area flows into some areas of the city.

The Coconino County Board of Supervisors this week unanimously approved an audible siren system for areas impacted by flooding from 2019’s Museum Fire. Last summer, more than 50 Flagstaff homes were inundated with water causing over $1.5 million in damage to private property.

The sirens will work in tandem with the county’s current RAVE system that sends out text and email emergency alerts. It’ll include more than a dozen sounds and have the capability to broadcast voice messages throughout the Grandview, Paradise, and Sunnyside neighborhoods along with Mt. Elden Estates and Lockett Ranches.

Officials say the goal is to alert people in flood-prone areas who may not have a cell phone with them as well as children.

"We did listen to the community over the summer and the request for an alarm system was out there and people were asking for this," says District 2 Supervisor Jeronimo Vasquez who represents the areas in Flagstaff most heavily affected by the flooding. "We know that we have the potential for future floods, this isn’t going away any time soon, and this is something that we need for the safety of our communities."

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management will cover three-quarters of the $171,000 total cost, with Coconino County and the City of Flagstaff splitting the remainder.

Representatives with the company Alertus will determine the best locations for the hardware in the coming weeks. Flood officials say the goal is to have the sirens operational before this year’s monsoon season.

Supervisors say they’ve had success with a similar system that was put in place in Oak Creek Canyon following the 2014 Slide Fire.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.