Ready for monsoon 2017? Valley residents talk neighborhood, street flooding

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 09:24:38-04

Monsoon 2017 officially kicks off on June 15. Are you prepared?

FULL SECTION: Everything you need to know aboutmonsoon2017

The annual wet season for the desert southwest is a welcome reprieve from scorching temperatures, but it also puts a lot of people into preparation mode.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says their network of 59 freeway pumping stations are checked, maintained and ready to get to work all year long.

"These are very powerful engines inside the pump stations. They can lift in combination with the pumps, more than 10,000 gallons of water per minute," said Doug Nintzel, spokesperson for ADOT.

Nintzel says response teams are ready to go in the event they need to jump on any problems that pop up.

Pumps have had issues in the past, which include overheating, and pump stations have even been clogged by trash.

Nintzel says some of the pumps are also showing their age. Some date back to the President Lyndon Johnson Administration in the early to mid 1960s.

Plans are in the works to address some of the aging pumps, which include stations along Interstate 17 and US 60.

As with most projects, timing and money are big factors.

Nintzel says the pump replacement projects should begin sometime in mid-2018.

But freeway flooding is far from the only monsoon concern.

People living along the US 60 Superstition Freeway near Stapley Drive remember a 100-year storm from 2014 very well.

"We had a little bit of water, but on the other side there was people inside their house with a bunch of water," said Jesus Guevara, whose neighborhood flooded when water flowed in from nearby Emerald Park during the freak storm. 

The park is designed to act as a flood basin, but on that day in 2014, it was simply too much water, too fast.

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"It was something that hasn't even been seen in over 100 years in this area, and it was a perfect storm," said Steven Wright with the City of Mesa.

Mesa says steps have been taken in the years since the storm; rain gauges have been added, as well as cameras to keep tabs on monsoon downpours.

Over in Ahwatukee, folks living at the base of South Mountain are bracing for what could be a long and potentially damaging summer.

"It was coming in with so much force of the doggie door, I could even put my hand to hold it to put the paneling to stop it from just rushing in," said Linda Jewell, an Ahwatukee resident remembering a nasty flood in 2014.

During that storm, Jewell says flood waters rushed off South Mountain and tossed cinder blocks like toys. The water eventually breached homes and ruined nearly everything it touched.

"It is very frustrating, and it's really no one's fault, it's mothers nature's fault, as it comes off South Mountain has nowhere to go," added Jewell.

Satellite views show how the water has cut through the desert over the years and leads directly into several properties.

Some homeowners have taken matters into their own hands, and are building reinforced cinder block walls with rebar to stop the flood waters.

"They have gotten tired of waiting for anything to happen, and they kind of take it into their own hands and go ahead and protect themselves, which I can't blame them for, the problem is that it just continues to funnel in more water to those of us that don't do that," added Jewell.

The City of Phoenix says help is on the way. Plans are in the works for a flood control project in the near future, but it will not be in place for monsoon 2017.