Arizona State Senator to Visit Duncan and Offer Help to Town After Massive Flooding

Arizona State Senator David Gowen (R-Sierra Vista) will visit the small town of Duncan in Greenlee County, which recently suffered from heavy flooding, to offer residents help and find solutions to prevent this kind of damage from occurring again in the future.

“I am thankful that no lives were lost during what must have been a terrifying experience and appreciate the assistance of local law enforcement, first responders and the neighbors that banded together to help each other out during this time of crisis,” Gowen said in a press release. “I look forward to visiting Duncan to serve as needed in the coming days.”

Gowen also stated that he has been in contact with Duncan Mayor Anne Thurman, Greenlee County Sheriff Tim Sumner, and Gov. Doug Ducey’s office to respond to this “unexpected disaster” and will collaborate to “provide whatever resources are needed for cleanup, repairs,” and additional flood protection resources to use down the road.

As reported by ABC15, the flooding began Monday when monsoon rains caused the Gila River to rise, cresting at 22.54 feet near Duncan, a historic high for the area and classified as a major flood stage. The river set another record this week at the Virden, New Mexico gauge site, reaching over 30 feet.

Because of the high waters, the Duncan Valley Rural Fire District (DVRFD) told residents to evacuate Monday morning. Another evacuation notice was issued Monday afternoon as a levee was at risk of breaking.

Since Monday, river levels have continuously dropped, reaching levels below the flood stage on Tuesday. Although the Town of Duncan warned that the remaining water in the area could carry contaminants, so residents should avoid flood water as best they can and wear protective clothing.

ABC15 also shared what some residents had to deal with, showing one local restaurant, the Ranch House, with a floor submerged under inches of water. Owner Stan Ellis said he had to remove equipment such as freezers from the restaurant.

According to AZ Family, this flooding may not have been so unexpected. The area is reportedly prone to flooding, and while this time it broke a record, similar floods were seen in 2005, 1992, and 1978. Each time, the levee on the Gila River did not hold, sending water into the town.

The Greenlee County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, published in 2021, classified the levee in Duncan as “highly likely” to experience “catastrophic” failure. Duncan is the only town listed to have this classification.

Furthermore, in 2017 the federal government asked Arizona to inventory and review levees across the state for the National Levee Database. Yet, AZ Family shared that the review has not been completed as of last August.

Meanwhile, the Arizona drought may be worsening the situation. Arizona State Climatologist Erinanne Saffell told AZ Family that the dry atmosphere creates hard ground, so when the monsoons come, the water does not go straight into the ground but runs off it instead, causing the flash floods seen in Arizona.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].




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