Emergency crews ready for monsoon season - East Valley Tribune: News

Emergency crews ready for monsoon season

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Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 1:39 pm | Updated: 1:21 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

For a Scottsdale emergency crew, the Arizona monsoon is akin to the playoffs in professional sports.

National Weather Service forecast

The downpours that accompany the season represent the height of action for members of the city's Emergency Response Team, who warn that storms can quickly transform the tranquil Indian Bend Wash into a white-capped river.

"I refer to them as the city's National Guard," said Norm Akin, traffic operations manager, who leads the 15-person team. "They work in various areas of the city during the day. They are people who are willing to come in with little notice and work a major event."

The team met Tuesday to discuss plans for a coordinated response to the monsoon season, which typically begins the first week of July but has been delayed by above-normal temperatures.

The crew has positioned barricades and signs at flood-prone areas, stocked sand, bags and shovels at the city's two maintenance yards and tested the "high-water" warning flashers along Indian Bend Wash.

They also have activated a four-wheel-drive truck outfitted with a winch, chain saws, flairs, barricades and flashing road signs.

Home to Silverado Golf Course, the wash often doubles as a playground for kayaks, canoes and rafts for a few hours following thunderstorms, as the water rushes down the greenbelt. The team has seen the floodwaters carry such things as a Volkswagen Beetle, an engine block, a tool shed and trees.

"I just like the action," said Jeremy Dye, a traffic signal technician who has volunteered for the emergency team for nine years. "It makes you feel like you are doing something to help out."

The impending monsoon also has police officers anticipating a rush of activity.

"That first dousing in which the rain is mixing with the oil on the roads, makes the roads very, very slick. So we do see a rise in accidents," said assistant police chief Dee Taylor. "Everybody needs to be a little more safety-conscious during monsoon season."

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