NOGALES, Ariz. – Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency July 27 following monsoonal rains that threatened homes and infrastructure here.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers responded to the emergency by providing technical advice and direct flood fight assistance.
"This was a complex mission, where we had to quickly design and execute – with constrained time and resources – a plan to protect the people of Nogales, as well as their critical infrastructure," said Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kirk Gibbs. "Our team prepared and strengthened four locations along the channel that threatened life, health and safety of the community."
The assistance was urgently needed to mitigate imminent flooding and a threat to public health at the Nogales Wash Channel, Ducey said.
Under Public Law 84-99, the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act, the Corps may provide assistance to communities to save human life, prevent immediate human suffering or mitigate public property damage. An imminent threat of unusual flooding must exist and a state must request the Corps assistance.
To further assist the flood fight effort, the governor activated the Arizona Army National Guard's 253rd Engineer Battalion Aug. 4. The guard placed concrete barriers, assembled and filled HESCO bastions and constructed earthen berms at key locations in the wash.
"It was a pleasure working with the Arizona National Guard Soldiers; a true team effort for a complex mission where the federal and state governments worked together to protect the community," Gibbs said. "These Soldiers were true professionals, and they received critical training on their equipment, while simultaneously supporting an emergency operation to aid a community. In the future, we look forward to working with the state on any opportunities when we can conduct missions with them again, particularly emergency responses such as this."
The initial damage occurred during monsoon rains July 23 to 24. According to the Santa Cruz County Flood Control District, flows for July 2017 were about equal to the entire 110-day monsoon season of 2016, with some areas receiving more than 13 inches of rain.
"We must remain engaged with the state, county and city to discuss possible courses of action for the future to ensure the long-term stability of their flood control channel, which is critical to protecting much of the infrastructure for this vital border community," Gibbs said. "The county needs federal assistance for a long-term solution to stabilizing their stream banks."
This week, Gibbs visited District personnel and response sites to personally thank Corps, National Guard and local team members.
"Through an intense period of 24 days, we developed a plan, executed rapidly and efficiently, and helped a community in need of our resources and expertise," Gibbs said. "We built a relationship through trust with a city, a county, the National Guard and the state. I simply couldn't be prouder."