Local neighborhoods aim to wrangle monsoon floods
By Tina Giuliano,2023-06-08
Hidden underneath tree canopies and behind modern neighborhood fences is the close-knit Midway Village Neighborhood. For the neighborhood association president Ann Moynihan, it's a place she has called home for the last three years.
"It's the people and the chance to get to know people in close proximity," she said. "It's very close to so many things I go to."
She's lived in Tucson for over 40 years, so each summer she knows what the billowing dark clouds and gusty winds signal.
"It's very intense," she said. "And if flooding is going to happen, it happens very quick and the amount of water is large."
During monsoon, flash floods fill the streets with water. And in the Midway Village Neighborhood, the streets are slightly inverted so the water pools in the middle instead of draining near the sidewalk. It's also because most of the neighborhood, particularly Desert Avenue, is the designated Midway Wash. Moynihan said the location of the neighborhood actually puts them into the FEMA Floodplain.
"For us as a whole neighborhood, we have to send about $40,000 annually to the national flood insurance program," she said.
She said they have learned how to navigate the flooded streets during the summer months.
"We can still traverse it but as we were discussing probably at one point, it brings a lot of pollutants and trash," Moynihan said.
As the association president, her goal is to put more plants and basins to help collect the flowing water.
"We're working with Tucson Clean and Beautiful on a lovely garden space," she said. "And then there may be opportunity up there to create the basins that we may not have on our streets."
Because once the streets flood, the water doesn't just impact Midway Village. It continues through the wash to other neighborhoods like The Garden District.
"If we keep the water in our neighborhood, we can potentially help the downstream association Garden District," she said.
Downstream at the The Gardent District, a local Tucson staple called Zayna's Mediterranean Restaurant stands tall. But the parking lot seemingly sinks during monsoon as it becomes overwhelmed with flood water.
"It's the worst flood that I've ever seen not in an actual wash," Heather Smith, the manager at the restaurant said. "It can reach up to the restaurant."
She said the water can reach up to three to four feet throughout the parking lot. So to help people still enjoy the Zayna's experience, the owners built a bridge over the wash in order to bring people safely over the water.
"When the wash is full and the parking lot is full we don't have an area where the customers can get across it," she said. "Except for this bridge that the owner built."
The rushing water becomes filled with debris and litter as it flows through the area.
"So there's a lot of things that we find in the wash other than carts or mattresses," she said. "We've found bags of drugs and needles in there."
Smith said they've been working with the local neighborhood associations to figure out a solution to the problem.
"Maybe building some type of canal or even creating a wash or a bridge," she said. "Those were some of the options I thought of."
Back in Midway Village, Moynihan hopes their upcoming projects will help.
"We may be able to at least utilize some of the water that's coming through and also help reduce pollutants if we can get some of these local features with vegetation," she said.
Tina Giuliano is a reporter for KGUN 9 . She is a native Arizonan and grew up in Scottsdale. Tina is passionate about storytelling and is excited to work telling Tucson's stories. Share your story ideas and important issues with Tina by emailing email@example.com or by connecting on Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter .
Catch the KGUN 9 Special Presentation: CHANGING PATTERNS - MONSOON 2023 here on our site, or your favorite streaming device.
We take a look at dust storm dangers, tag along with storm chasers & a swift water rescue team, dive into keeping you and your family safe during a storm, and examine what we can expect for monsoon this year.