It is funny watching Facebook light up with posts about rain. Rain? Yes, rain. That is what we have been reduced to in Sierra Vista. The wildfires have wreaked havoc and in doing so brought forth a sense of raw respect and humility of nature’s fury and forgivingness. You have to be in the position of being threatened by nature and having aspects of your community ripped apart by nature to truly appreciate this feeling. Everyone knows someone that hat has lost a home or displaced by the fire. Everyone has offered something of themselves to help their friends and family whether it was sheltering pets
at no charge, volunteering the few favailable hours in the week, offering room and board, supporting the fire fighters, or donating the monetary, emotional and spiritual support to a community in need. Everyone. Strangers no more at the hands of the fury of nature. So yeah, when it rained, a whole lot of people got excited for very good reason.
As the fire worsened so rapidly, state and federal authorities quickly stated the fire would burn until the summer monsoon rains arrived; they predicted July 15th. Monsoon rains, that have largely been absent for years. So yeah, when it rained, fire fighters cheered.
The absence of a wet monsoon has delivered Sierra Vista into a Category 5 drought. In May, category E(F) 5 tornados ripped through Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas bringing the U.S. category 5 tornado count to 57 since 1950. The three Category 5 storms to hit the USA were the 1935 Florida Keys "Labor Day" hurricane
, Hurricane Camille
, which hit Mississippi in 1969, and Hurricane Andrew
, which hit Dade County, Fla., on Aug. 24, 1992. And then there was Katrina. Droughts are measured in expense, duration of prolonged intensity and anticipated relief. Southeastern Arizona now exceeds the category 5 (D4) drought monitor. To compare it weather phenomena, you must compare it to the worst of the worst; it is that bad and has been going on that long. So yeah, when it rained, it brought with it a sense visceral elation that was sent forth in cautious optimism.
The rainfall today, while elating in its own right was and is a balance of nature’s reserved right to give and take away. Rain fell hardest, precisely in the areas that have been most devastated and areas now in most jeopardy. With the relief came the lightning strikes of reminder. So yeah, those in tune to the bigger picture rejoiced.
U.S. monsoons are the least understood weather patterns. The summer monsoons come annually, but the monsoon itself may not bring rain to south east Arizona and New Mexico where it is responsible for 70% of the annual rainfall. Monsoon rains of minutes can flood roads for days, yield record hail and swiftly sweep life away in flash floods. Yes, floods in the desert. A new threat of nature’s forgiveness of her own fury.
The wildfires have decimated the scarred terrains ability to absorb and drain rainfall produced by summer monsoons that are now (after today’s events) scheduled to start tomorrow. For home owners, federal flood insurance should become a major consideration. An added expense? Yes, but there is good news in that it significantly differs from most forms of property casualty insurance.
Although flood risk may increase in a given area, premiums do not. This is because rates are determined by flood maps that do not immediately update after incidents of wildfire. To assess your level of flood risk, you may find the following website useful. www.FloodSmart.gov
. A sense of urgency: Federal flood insurance takes 30 days to take effect and as I said, monsoons are now scheduled to start tomorrow!
While there was a sense of relief in today’s rainfall, the “relief” may bring forth a new crisis. The bad news: Canyons and creeks tend to be synonymous in both naming and location and this is consistent with Huachuca Mountain. Creeks, Miller, Stump, Carr and Ash are known and established flood debris flow areas. That’s right, areas of the worst hit by the Monument Fire are of the highest for forth coming flood risk! The full text of CONTROLS ON THE ORIGIN AND RECURRENCE OF DEBRIS FLOWS IN THE HUACHUCA MOUNTAINS, SOUTHEASTERN ARIZONA is contained (here
Unfortunately, FEMA got it WRONG
on their debris flow and mitigation report
of 2005 for southeast Arizona! Only 25% of Cochise County was said to be at “High Risk” of wildfire whereas 100% of Cochise County has been under category 5 drought conditions for years – 15% at D3 – D4 and 85% at D4! If you are one of the few using it, throw it away. According to them, pre-fire mitigation was not needed due to our low probability of wildfire. Across the state, timber turned to tinder, dried through years of drought and accumulated through years of bureaucratic incompetence. The fire indexed increased and while local authorities raised the red flag to warn of increasing wildfire threat, the FEMA document was used to rationalize the saving of hundreds of thousands of dollars to not clear an area of such “low risk;” despite the eyes on target, real time reports and despite the record drought conditions. The ignored time bomb went off; and what did federal authorities say about the wildfires? Global warming
Silenced have been the voices calling alarm to the southeastern Arizona conditions; buried deep in the annals of archives, parted to allow the voice of unreason. It is declared that our loss is not the fault of bureaucrats, but utilized as an excuse to advance a political agenda. These officials will say nothing of the preventable, preexisting conditions that have led to the wildfires’ explosive growth rates. They will not speak to how they could have prevented such personal loss by spending hundreds of thousands while employing the unemployed to save the local, state, and federal government millions. Global warming is all they speak of. If you have wondered why Michael Savage refers to Liberalism as a “Mental Disorder,” wonder no more. Even if the farce of the highly misrepresented global warming was true as they represent it, these wildfires were preventable!
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this is we have fostered a government that is of, by, and for the people that is now willing to exploit the loss of its people before it renders aid to advance an agenda against the people.
Fortunately, the Sierra Vista, Arizona sense of community is not a reflection government!
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