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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Arizona Disasters Highlight Collaboration Among Jurisdictions

Damaged home in Wickenburg
Photo by: DEMA staff
The Town of Wickenburg recently received close to four inches of rain in less than an hour. The resulting floodwaters rushed down Cemetery Wash towards the Hassayampa River, inundating the Vista del Pueblo neighborhood along Constellation Road.

After the water receded, the destruction was obvious--downed power lines, eroded roads, broken water mains, undermined rail lines, mud and debris inside homes, damaged infrastructure, and debris everywhere.

The Town gathered their resources and began the recovery process. Arizona Public Service, and Team Rubicon and American Red Cross volunteers arrived to assist in the clean up, as did Maricopa County employees.

Damaged road in Wickenburg
Photo by: DEMA Staff
A couple of days later, I made a trip to Wickenburg with some Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) coworkers for a meeting with Town officials.

Wickenburg Town Manager Josh Wright organized the meeting as an opportunity for partner agencies to discuss what potential resources are needed to get the Town back to running smoothly, and for its residents to recover.

Maricopa County Flood Control, Public Works, and Emergency Management, DEMA, and the American Red Cross all joined Wickenburg officials to talk about recovery. The meeting included a discussion of infrastructure damage and repair, resources, and how to help the townspeople.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter, which converted into a resource center for anyone affected by the flood and in need of assistance. American Red Cross’s disaster team had been visiting homes to assess the damage.

Wickenburg Resource Center
Photo by: Red Cross
After the meeting, DEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaison contacted Arizona Southern Baptist Relief and The Salvation Army to join the American Red Cross, along with town and county representatives, to staff the Community Center, a place where people can receive resources and referrals to assist in recovery.

Since I joined the Department, I’ve always been impressed with how well Arizona agencies collaborate with one another. When something happens in one jurisdiction, neighboring jurisdictions jump in to assist with whatever is needed to help with response or recovery.

When a community is unable to respond or recover on their own, they can look towards other agencies to help due to the Arizona Mutual Aid Compact (AZMAC). Mutual aid allows emergency responders to lend immediate assistance across jurisdictional boundaries when needed.

Recovery begins in Wickenburg
Photo by: Town of Wickenburg

In Arizona, all 15 counties are part of the AZMAC, along with many towns, cities, tribes, school districts and fire departments. The ability to respond and assist in a timely manner helps communities like Wickenburg begin the recovery process sooner, getting them back to normal faster.

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