Flagstaff declares a state of emergency as devastating floods hit Arizona | Arizona

Parts of Arizona have been hit by devastating floods, with the city of Flagstaff declaring a state of emergency after being inundated by torrents of water that turned streets into murky, fast-flowing streams.

In one popular video, a person shouted “Oh my God!” Filmed when a Toyota Prius was shown being carried quickly down a Flagstaff street by a thundering wave of dark water. The city, which sits between the mountains of northern Arizona and is considered the gateway to the Grand Canyon, was pelted by several days of rain, prompting local officials to urge people to seek refuge.

“There was water flowing into the front door and all we could do was try to block the door and keep more water from getting in,” said local resident David Gilley, who filmed waist-high water outside his window after 2.5 inches of rain accumulated fell in just two days.

The monsoons also swelled the Colorado River, causing a flash flood that killed a person who was on a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. Such floods have long been part of an environment that, despite being largely desert, experiences heavy rainfall.

However, the Floods in Flagstaff appear to have been aided by the scars of a major forest fire in 2019 that burned vegetation on a large area of ​​a nearby mountain, allowing water to flow freely into the city.

“In the video of the Prius moving, you can see a lot of mud coming through, which is a contributor to combustion,” said Upmanu Lall, director of Columbia Water Center at Columbia University.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey posted a series of tweets about the emergency.

TODAY: In response to flash floods in Coconino County, I issued an emergency statement giving up to $ 200,000 for relief efforts.

Severe flooding following forest fires poses dangerous challenges for communities in northern Arizona. 1/

– Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 16, 2021

High temperatures have scorched the western states in recent weeks, with Flagstaff hitting 94 ° F (34.4 ° C) on June 15, the highest daily temperature for the city on record, beating the previous high of 1974.

Lall said long periods of drought can help fuel fires and leave loose soils that can cause a wave of rubble in a sudden high tide.

The western United States has been drought for 20 years, with the current exceptional drought and heat likely being exacerbated by man-made global warming.

“When we have drier, hotter conditions that follow active monsoon years, the propensity for fires and debris flows will increase, which makes the climate community stand out,” he said.

In 2018, heavy rains following a period of intense forest fires in California caused floods and mudslides that injured hundreds of people and evacuated hundreds of homes.

The climate crisis is also linked to the severe floods in Europe, in which more than 100 people died after flooding in western Germany and Belgium.

Climate scientists, who have warned that in some places there will be more floods as a warming atmosphere can absorb more moisture, have been shocked by the extent of the disaster.

Flagstaff is a popular “gateway city” for visitors traveling north from the Phoenix area to the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon National Park officials on Friday identified a Michigan woman as the person found dead in freezing water after a flash flood inundated a commercial rafting group’s overnight campsite along the Colorado River.

Rebecca Copeland, 29, of Ann Arbor, was found Thursday near the camp, which was washed away on Wednesday night by a stream of water flowing through a slot canyon about a quarter of a mile from the group that used an established site for camping, said Park officials in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to the coverage

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