Is rain the only reason our streets flood so badly?

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Is rain the only reason our streets flood so badly?

By Craig Smith. CREATED Jul 14, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Heavy rains are a natural part of monsoon but why is flooding so common?

It's not just the power of nature alone. 
Flooding is built into a lot of our streets.
We get it.
Our storms dump heavy rains, but are they really enough to make streets flood so often?
A lot of local streets have no storm drains.  Years ago those streets were designed to fill with water and funnel it to the washes.

Parts of Alvernon actually form a ”V” that collects water. 
Now there's a grill that drains to a big storm sewer but Ed Cain remembers when there wasn't and water flooded his family's auto shop.

He says, “Years ago when I was quite a bit younger.  We used to take rafts and go down, float down there.  And I've even seen, we had people with trucks pulling people and water skiing down there on this thing."
Some older neighborhoods have deep dips, that even cross washes.
So city crews hunt down clogs that can make flooding worse.

City of Tucson Transportation Director Daryl Cole says, “Most of our folks have been out working most of the night clearing drains, clearing most of those things because it carries so much debris."
Tight budgets make it tough to add storm sewers but local governments have been adding better drainage.

Pima Flood Control's Deputy Director Bill Zimmerman says for about 20 years, Pima Flood Control, Tucson and Federal officials have been re-working an area from Alvernon to I-10 to cut flooding.

Looking at a map he points to wide areas of red that show former flood zones, now reduced to a fraction of their former size.

"All these little red colors is what was in the hundred year flood plain. Now it's just the purple."

The city says you can help flood control by clearing debris on your land that could clog small washes. 
If you see something on public land, if you're in Tucson contact the Transportation Department at (520) 791-3154, or, if in Pima County ask County Flood Control at : (520) 724-4600

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press