Monday, September 15, 2014

We Survived the Great Phoenix Flood of 2014!

This past Monday, I did something that I have never done before - and will probably never do again. That's right - I cancelled school for weather!

Seriously - in Phoenix?

But yes!

Sometime in the middle of the night, the rain began - and went, and went, and went. The thought of flooding never crossed my mind, even as the thunder kept me awake, because the simple truth is that Phoenix doesn't flood. Never has, never will. Right?

But when we got up on Monday morning, the water was actually lapping at our back porch, and our entire neighborhood was under water. We'd never seen anything like it!

Our area was particularly hard-hit in the flooding, for several reasons:

- Our neighborhood was privately developed, meaning we have no appreciable drainage system or flood control landscaping (a fact which never mattered one bit till Monday).

- Our neighborhood additionally has two distinct height levels. Our area (the lower level) effectively served as a run-off basin for the higher level.

- Additionally, we are bordered by a property (a mobile home park) that is several feet higher in elevation than we are. During the storm, a number of areas washed out beneath the dividing wall, meaning that we now were a run-off basin for the entire mobile home park as well. It was like a waterfall!

One of the areas where the under-wall dirt washed out. 

- Making things even worse, four of the houses on our street had just finished a complete course of flood irrigation on Sunday evening. We knew there was rain in the forecast, but paid no attention. In Phoenix, there are two fairly dependable rules concerning "rain in the forecast" - those being:

(1) If there's no rain in the forecast, it's not going to rain. 
(2) If there's rain in the forecast, it's still not going to rain.
And even when the impossible happens and we do get some rain, it's always short-lived and not enough to serve as any sort of irrigation. Thus, when the flood came, a good bit of our neighborhood was already waterlogged.

We escaped very easily - just a bit of ceiling damage. Our house and another house in the neighborhood were the only to escape so easily as, by the grace of God, those two houses had been burmed (that is, landscaped for flood irrigation) and were able to deal with the volume of water that we experienced.

The other homes in our street all suffered to various degrees - everything from the minor (flooded garages) to serious damage (one home flooded completely, and one home had floor-to-ceiling basement flooding, which then resulted in an exploded wall from the pressure build-up).

Our neighbor's basement door (now under water). 

This was the one time in my entire life when I have prayed for no more rain, and it will probably be the last. I love rain. But Monday was the first time when I nervously considered the fact that we really couldn't handle any more rain without serious consequences.

This experience also gave me an opportunity to identify with areas of the country that regularly experience flooding. While the amount of rain we received was only enough to elicit an amused giggle from true flood-plain dwellers, the truth is simply that we Phoenicians are not built, landscaped, insured, or prepared in any way to handle unusual amounts of water - and thus this hit us much harder than it would any other city prepared for flooding.
"Hey, I heard there are these things called sand bags that are good for keeping water out. Where do you suppose we could buy some?"
"Beats me, but since we can't get out of the neighborhood anyway, it doesn't much matter!" 
We ended up canceling school, and the children spent the entire morning in the rain. Needless to say, they had a marvelous time. (No, we did not let them go anywhere unsafe.) Unfortunately I didn't catch any pictures of their fun, but it was a day that will live long in their memories!

Here's a quick video that I got sometime during the morning (sorry, I can't figure out how to embed video with the newest changes to Youtube!):

Flood Video

One interesting thing to notice was the aftermath of our little flood. Having never experienced one before, we were very surprised at what the flood left behind. There was tons of trash (where it came from, no one knows), and our grass was coated in a (disgusting!) thick brown sludge of dried mud. Again, it's usual to y'all out there, but we'd never seen anything like it. New experiences all around!

For those of you who live in oft-flooded areas - I take my hat off to you! Wow! Amazing stuff.


  1. I remember when we first moved from CA to the midwest--we'd never dealt with ice emergencies in our lives and within 4 weeks of arriving in our new hometown we had to deal with the worst ice storm in decades. It was terribly traumatic, and I completely sympathize with you having to deal with a flood. I wish you all a good recovery!

  2. Oh gosh! That flood must have been terrible! It's a good thing everyone in your family got out of it safe. I guess the weather is really getting erratic nowadays. A little preparation like a handy emergency kit may be in order for anyone, even for the people who haven't experienced flooding. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your experience with the highly unusual flooding at your locale! Let us hope that it does not become the new norm.

    Gail Wallace @ Water Damage Pros


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