The summer rainy season will soon be here, and the Town of Oro Valley Stormwater Utility would like to remind everyone to stay monsoon aware and monsoon safe. These intense summer rainstorms are an enjoyable break from the heat, but they do contain heavy rain, powerful lightning, strong winds and dust, potentially causing dangerous flash floods. If you’ve lived in Arizona for a while, it’s likely you’ve heard the saying “Turn around; don’t drown.” Those words could save your life, because flash floods are the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States, with nearly half of those fatalities being vehicle related.
Here are some suggestions that will help make this summer rainy season enjoyable and safe for all.
- Never drive around a road closure barricade. Driving around barricades is illegal and dangerous. As little as 10 inches of water can float average-sized cars, mini-vans, SUVs and trucks.
- Do not let children play near storm drains or washes.
- Shelter your pets in your home during storm events.
- Be cautious at night as flood dangers are much more difficult to see in the dark.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
- Roadbeds may be washed out under floodwaters. Never drive through flooded roadways.
- If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Protecting your property during the summer rainy season is also a critical part of staying monsoon aware and monsoon safe. This can involve a variety of actions ranging from inspecting and maintaining your home, to installation of protective measures. Here are some flash flood safety tips for homeowners.
- First off, know the floodplain status of your property. It’s important for owners to know if their property is in or very near a flood prone area.
- If you live in a flood prone area, have an evacuation plan.
- Store materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber for protection from floodwaters and to make quick repairs after a severe storm.
- Store materials above flood levels.
- Secure items to prevent them from floating away.
- Learn where to find high ground that is safe from flooding. In a flash flood, seek high ground quickly.
- Contact an insurance agent to discuss flood insurance coverage. Flood losses are not covered under normal homeowners’ insurance policies. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Get coverage early, as there is a waiting period before it takes effect.
In addition to taking protective measures for your home and family, there is another way you can help keep Oro Valley safe: the prevention of stormwater pollution. Preventing pollution and preserving stormwater quality during the summer rainy season is another facet of the Town of Oro Valley Stormwater Utility program. The Town is mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to protect the environment through the prevention of pollutants entering stormwater runoff. Runoff comes from the places where we live, work and play. Pollutants can be discharged during storm events and degrade stormwater quality, which is often released back into the environment. Here are a few tips to help in the prevention of pollution:
- When draining your pool or spa water into the adjoining paved street, make sure the water is clear (not green or brown), pH neutral (6.0 to 8.0) and has chlorine less than one part per million. You may also drain without restriction to the sanitary sewer or onto your own property.
- Pick up your pet waste and dispose of it in the garbage.
- Keep the lid on your trash container closed when not in use to keep rainwater out.
- Limit the use of pesticides and herbicides. When using these chemicals, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Regularly check your vehicle for leaks. Have any leaks repaired as soon as possible.
Lastly, the Town has implemented an emergency notification service for our residents called CodeRED. Once registered, the CodeRED system will notify you via phone calls, text messages, emails and social media of local events that may immediately impact your safety. To learn more about how to register for safety alerts and how you can prepare for this year’s monsoon, visit orovalleyaz.gov and type MONSOON in the search bar.
The Town of Oro Valley Stormwater Utility encourages you to be monsoon aware and monsoon safe so that this year’s monsoon season is enjoyable for all.
John Spiker is the Town of Oro Valley Stormwater Utility division manager.