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Family watches flood path create 'own Grand Canyon' near Flagstaff

Posted at 4:25 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 12:40:00-04

A family in eastern Coconino County is watching their "own Grand Canyon" grow as it erodes a path into their property.

Faith Skinner lives in the Timberline Estates area with her husband and children who range in age from 6 to 16. They have watched the channel that was first created from the post-fire flooding from the Schultz Fire continue to grow.

In the past few days, debris flow has come down the channel three times.

“We’ve always called it our own Grand Canyon because it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Skinner.

Skinner and her family moved in recently, but have been evacuated twice from the Tunnel and Pipeline fires. She says the property owner before them would not allow the county to do any mitigation on the land, which they say caused erosion and sent flood waters downstream.

“I know the county is willing to help eventually, but there are a lot of other people in dire need that are going to have that immediate two feet of mud flowing through their property,” she said.

Skinner worries that the only path into their driveway could wash away if a storm too large hits, which would leave them stuck. They're “just hoping it doesn’t come in a giant four-foot wall of water and mud.”

Coconino County officials have updated their projections of sandbags in the area, now estimating they will need 600,000 bags in the eastern part of the county.

Coconino County has posted online maps with detailed recommendations for each home at risk, including sandbag wall dimensions, placement, and estimated number of bags to use.

Some homeowners are being told to put hundreds to thousands of sandbags up. In the South Fernwood area, the county is recommending some properties along East Last Chance Road place 1,460 sandbags, while others were told 1,300.

In the Heppel Drive/Switchback Trail area, some homeowners are being told they will need approximately 3,000 sandbags total.

Along with using sandbags and jersey barriers for mitigation, the Coconino Flood Control District said they have ordered a supply of inflatable water barriers known as Tiger Dams.

Skinner said they’re hoping there will be solutions, sooner than later though.

“I think this is low on the priority list.”