Lord, could we get some rain? Our prayers were answered. OK, can it stop for a while? Because it was a doozy of a storm that trounced Arizona. The destruction to lives, livestock, trees and property that comes from a “100-year monsoon event” showed us that Mother Nature can be fierce. In Arizona, even if you are a newcomer, it is almost sacrilegious to complain about the rain. We are in the midst of an extreme drought that has lasted over 20 years. The lack of precipitation has lowered our water tables, drying up the lakes, rivers, wells and reservoirs. It has caused many to wonder what the future holds for the inhabitants of our great state. Will agriculture survive with water restrictions? Will watering lawns and golf courses be limited? Will forest fires keep raging?
And then came the storms. The sudden torrential rains (in some places 5 inches) on packed earth with nowhere to run saturates the soil quickly, causing mini-rivers to form. Dry stream beds can instantaneously turn into torrents of fast-moving water. Burn scars from the fires scattered throughout the state create more flash flooding, as the soil cannot absorb the water and the vegetation that typically holds soil in place is destroyed.
The drive across that little channel of water that is running quickly and only a few inches high can suddenly become white-water rapids and start to move your vehicle. Roads that are paved were ponds; dirt roads quickly became mud holes. Danger lurks in these storms.
When the thunder cracked in the middle of the night last week in some places in Maricopa County, hundreds of folks called 911 because they thought bombs were going off. Thousands of lightning flashes and wind gusts over 60 miles per hour ripped through towns and subdivisions with fury. One golf course had 220 mature trees downed in a few hours. People looked out and found strange “items” had landed in their backyard. Where did that trampoline come from? Wait, is that a storage shed upside down in our yard? And where did all of our lawn furniture go? Hey, didn’t we just spend about 2,000 bucks on decorative rock for our front yard? Is that it being washed down the road?
Roofs were pelted with hail or shingles blown off. Vehicles that were once parked in driveways were seen floating down streams that didn’t exist hours earlier before the rain. Houses were flooded. Some things can be replaced, repaired and rebuilt. But not the precious lives that were lost. We collectively mourn for the two children swept away in sudden raging waters. It is an unimaginable loss for the families. And so we hold each other close as we realize that monsoons can have disastrous outcomes. We paid a steep price for precipitation.
The Navajos say that when the clouds look like sheep in the sky, the heavens will soon open up and drench the parched land, cleanse the earth, refresh the trees and sustain life. I see sheep congregating in the northern sky. Looks like rain. Stay safe, dear readers.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at email@example.com.